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7 



THE NOVELS, TALES, AND PLAYS 
OF JOHN GALSWORTHY 

DEVON EDITION 



VOLUME VIII 






- 



y 





Reproduction of a page from 

The Manuscript of " The Patrician" 



THE PATRICIAN 



By 

John Galsworthy 




New York 

Charles Scribner's Sons 
1926 



Copyright, 11)23, by John Galsworthy 
Copyright, iqil, J> Charles Scribner's Softs 



Printed in lite United States of America 




MMUJ 






TO 
GILBERT MURRAY 



PREFACE 

The germ of 'The Patrician 9 is traceable to a 
certain dinner party at the House of Commons in 
1908, and the Jace of a young politician on the 
other side of a round table. It intrigued me pro- 
foundly, set me to sorting old impressions, and 
ruminating on what it is in the real patrician type 
which so often stultifies some excellent qualities. 
Aristocrats, like members oj any other class, run in 
all shapes. But familiarity with "old blood 91 drives 
one to the conclusion arrived at in this book, that 
the "doom" as it were, of the real patrician, who by 
the way is by no means confined to the merely 
titled, is a certain dried-ness born from too many 
generations of authority and assured position. With 
active energetic types such as Miltoun and Lady 
Casterley it takes the form of an unconscious itch 
for power, a kind of fanatical adherence to the ideal 
of leadership with its duties and responsibilities. 
In easygoing types such as Lord Valleys and Har- 
binger it is expressed in an "of course 9 ' attitude to 
existence, a quite broad tolerance of other men and 
things, so long as they themselves are accepted as the 
real pick of the basket. To put it another way : The 



VII 



PREFACE 

aristocratic type of mind is the furthest removed 
Jrom the artist's type of mind, to whom all is influx, 
no books are closed, and by whom nothing in lije is 
to be taken quite Jor granted. Occasionally a pa- 
trician may be an artist, just as a rabbit may now 
and then be black; but I Jancy the artist has always 
come into him with some newer strain of blood. 
Lord Dennis is as near as the patrician will get to 
the artist without an infusion of new blood. For the 
essence of a leading caste is power of quick and firm 
decision, which means doors slammed on doubts, 
sympathies, rumination, and the faculty of under- 
standing. Where the power of quick decision is bred 
in the bone, it comes out in the meat the meat is 
dry, its emotional sympathy starved or withered. 
This is what I mean by the 'doom" of the pa- 
trician caste. That caste is looked to, and looks to 
itself, always to know its own mind. As a rule it 
will express that mind in accordance with orthodox 
tradition ; but equally, of course, there is no revolu- 
tionary like a patrician, just because he worships 
high spirit, and abhors the indecision unworthy of 
the leader bis blood and bringing-up tells him that 
be is. How many generations in a back seat it takes 
to eradicate this special virus from the patrician 
type, I know not several, one would fancy. 

To satirise the weak points of a modern so-called 
aristocracy, recruited, irrespective of 'blood" from 



VIII 



PREFACE 

beer, newspapers, law, politics, and all manner of 
trades, is easy. This novel makes pretension to no 
such task, but tries to reach the weakness within the 
strength oj 'blue blood 9 itself. However one may 
acknowledge the good and strong qualities of the pa- 
trician type, no picture of it approaches truth which 
has not brought to light its peculiar inhibitions. 
Each section of Society has its "doom," the nega- 
tive so to speak of its virtues. Just as the Forsytes 
with all their sound and saving sense have their ex- 
aggerated love of property ; the Pendyces in their 
pluck a core of crass obstinacy; the Dallisons to 
their cultured sympathy the appendix of fastidious 
indecision 50 the Carddocs within their sense of 
duty, decisiveness, and high spirit have their emo- 
tions atrophied by their inbred love of leadership. 

People rarely see themselves as they are. For- 
sytes, Pendyces, Carddocs, are unaware of their 
special "cfooms"; they live their lives unconcerned, 
having dug themselves in. Dallisons are more con- 
scious, though it certainly does not make them bap- 
pier to see their own defects. More fortunate is the 
unconscious Pendyce or Carddoc, whose nose, 
slightly aquiline, is lifted above the satirists of this 
life. 

In rereading this book with a view to this preface 
I found myself shrinking from Miltoun, as I should 
shrink from him in real life. There is a touch of the 

ix 



PREFACE 

inhuman in him, and his theory of life. Cruelty is 
never far away from cast-iron discipline, however 
high the motive. And of all attributes of the human 
creature cruelty is to me the most abhorrent. When 
a man shuts the door on tolerance and understand- 
ing, even on a certain compromise in conduct, he is 
not far from cruelty either to himself or to others. 
And I think the fact that Miltoun makes me shudder 
a little, after all these years, is something of a testi- 
monial. Indeed, I think him one of my most con- 
vincing creatures, and I hope he may never be in 
power. 

Though the temperament and views of Charles 
Courtier are to the author of his being more sym- 
pathetic than those of Miltoun, I would not have 
readers suppose that I think his rule of life, or rather 
lack of rule, any more a working proposition than 
the authoritarian creed of his opponent. Human 
nature has room for both and a good deal besides. 
For any student of history, still more for any real- 
istic observer of bis fellow creatures, the modern ele- 
vation of 'Democracy' into the whole truth and 
nothing but the truth is an amusing piece of /cm- 
faronade. Government in accordance with the de- 
mands of the majority at any given moment, un- 
tempered by the trained faculties, long-sight, and 
experience of chosen intellects makes for ruin 
manifest to all but demagogues. Courtier would be 

x 



PREFACE 

the last to like it if he got it. Aristocracy is still the 
right principle of government, when as so seldom 
is the case it means government by the proven, not 
merely the assumed or the hereditary, best. And the 
problem before the modern 'democratic 9 ' State is 
bow to prove who are the best, and elect them for its 
governors. 

Aesthetically speaking I consider that a certain 
forcing of the "beauty* note, rather self-conscious 
in the latter part of this book, and a sort of ''soft- 
ness' 9 in the love stories, detract from its merits. I 
think some of the character and type drawing in it 
is as good as any I have done, but it did not, as a 
whole, give me the same satisfaction, when I read it 
through for the purpose of this preface, as "Fra- 
ternity" or "The Dark Flower" 

JOHN GALSWORTHY. 



XI 



THE PATRICIAN 



PART I 



PRO 




CHAPTER I 

IGHT, entering the vast room a 
room so high that its carved ceil- 
ing refused itself to exact scrutiny 
travelled, with the wistful, cold 
curiosity of the dawn, over a fan- 
tastic storehouse of Time. Light, unaccompanied 
by the prejudice of human eyes, made strange 
revelation of incongruities, as though illuminat- 
ing the dispassionate march of history. 

For in this dining hall one of the finest in 
England the Caradoc family had for centuries 
assembled the trophies and records of their ex- 
istence. Round about this dining hall they had 
built and pulled down and restored, until the 
rest of Monkland Court presented some aspect 
of homogeneity. Here alone they had left virgin 
the work of the old quasi-monastic builders, and 
within it unconsciously deposited their souls. 
For there were here, meeting the eyes of light, 
all those rather touching evidences of man's de- 
sire to persist for ever, those shells of his former 
bodies, the fetiches and queer proofs of his faiths, 
together with the remorseless demonstration of 
their treatment at the hands of Time. 



t K *>t> 



The annalist might here have found all his 
needed confirmations; the analyst from this ma- 
terial formed the due equation of high birth; the 
philosopher traced the course of aristocracy, from 
its primeval rise in crude strength or subtlety, 
through centuries of power, to picturesque de- 
cadence, and the beginnings of its last stand. 
Even the artist might here, perchance, have 
seized on the dry ineffable pervading spirit, as 
one visiting an old cathedral seems to scent out 
the constriction of its heart. 

From the legendary sword of that Welsh chief- 
tain who by an act of high, rewarded treachery 
had passed into the favour of the conquering 
William, and received, with the widow of a Nor- 
man, many lands in Devenescire, to the Cup 
purchased for Geoffrey Caradoc, present Earl of 
Valleys, by subscription of his Devonshire ten- 
ants on the occasion of his marriage with the 
Lady Gertrude Semmering no insignia were ab- 
sent, save the family portraits in the gallery of 
Valleys House in London. There was even an an- 
cient duplicate of that yellow tattered scroll roy- 
ally reconfirming lands and title to John, the 
most distinguished of all the Caradocs, who had 
unfortunately neglected to be born in wedlock, 
by one of those humorous omissions to be found 
in. the genealogies of most old families. Yes, it 

4 






THE PATRICIAN 

was there, almost cynically hung in a corner; for 
this incident, though no doubt a burning question 
in the fifteenth century, was now but staple for 
an ironical little tale, in view of the fact that 
descendants of John's 'own j: brother Edmund 
were undoubtedly to be found among the cot- 
tagers of a parish not far distant. 

Light, glancing from the suits of armour to the 
tiger skins beneath them, brought from India but 
a year ago by Bertie Caradoc, the youngest son, 
seemed recording, how those, who had once been 
foremost by virtue of that simple law of Nature 
which crowns the adventuring and strong, now 
being almost washed aside out of the main stream 
of national life, were compelled to devise adven- 
ture, lest they should lose belief in their own 
strength. 

The unsparing light of that first half-hour of 
summer morning recorded many other changes, 
wandering from austere tapestries to the velvety 
carpets, and dragging from the contrast sure 
proof of a common sense which denied to the 
present Earl and Countess the asceticisms of the 
past. And then it seemed to lose interest in this 
critical journey, as though longing to clothe all 
in witchery. For the sun had risen, and through 
the Eastern windows came pouring its level and 
mysterious joy. And with it, passing in at an 

5 






THE PATRICIAN 

open lattice, came a wild bee to settle among the 
flowers on the table athwart the Eastern end, 
used when there was only a small party in the 
house. The hours fled on silent, till the sun was 
high, and the first visitors came three maids, 
rosy, not silent, bringing brushes. They passed, 
and were followed by two footmen scouts of the 
breakfast brigade, who stood for a moment pro- 
fessionally doing nothing, then soberly com- 
menced to set the table. Then came a little girl of 
six, to see if there were anything exciting little 
Ann Shropton, child of Sir William Shropton by 
his marriage with Lady Agatha, eldest daughter 
of the house, the only one of the four young Cara- 
docs as yet wedded. She came on tiptoe, thinking 
to surprise whatever was there. She had a broad 
little face, and wide frank hazel eyes over a little 
nose which came out straight and sudden. En- 
circled by a loose belt placed far below the waist 
of her holland frock, as if to symbolise freedom, 
she seemed to think everything in life good fun. 
And soon she found the exciting thing. 

* Here's a bumble bee, William. Do you think 
I could tame it in my little glass box?' 

'No, I don't, Miss Ann; and look out, you'll 
be stung!' 

' It wouldn't sting me." 
"Why not?" 

6 



t~ 
THE PATRICIAN 



'Because it wouldn't." 
"Of course if you say so- 
"What time is the motor ordered?' 
"Nine o'clock." 



' I'm going with Grandpapa as far as the gate." 

'Suppose he says you're not?' 

"Well, then I shall go all the same." 

"I see." 

"I might go all the way with him to London ! 
Is Auntie Babs going?' 

"No, I don't think anybody is going with his 
lordship." 

"I would, if she were. William!' 

"Yes." 

"Is Uncle Eustace sure to be elected?' 

"Of course he is." 

"Do you think he'll be a good Member of 
Parliament?' 

"Lord Miltoun is very clever, Miss Ann." 

"Is he?" 

"Well, don't you think so?" 

"Does Charles think so?" 

"Ask him." 

"William!" 

"Yes." 

"I don't like London. I like here, and I like 
Catton, and I like home pretty well, and I love 
Pendridny and I like Ravensham." 

7 



" ; ^ 

THE PATRICIAN 

'His lordship is going to Ravensham to-day 
on his way up, I heard say." 

:< Oh ! then he'll see great-granny. William- 

"Here's Miss Wallace." 

From the doorway a lady with a broad pale 
patient face said: 

"Come, Ann." 

"All right! Hallo Simmons!" 

The entering butler replied: 

"Hallo, Miss Ann!" 

"I've got to go." 
Tin sure we're very sorry." 

"Yes." 

The door banged faintly, and in the great room 
rose the busy silence of those minutes which pre- 
cede repasts. Suddenly the four men by the 
breakfast table stood back. Lord Valleys had 
come in. 

He approached slowly, reading a blue paper, 
with his level grey eyes divided by a little un- 
characteristic frown. He had a tanned yet ruddy, 
decisively shaped face, with crisp hair and mous- 
tache beginning to go iron-grey the face of a 
man who knows his own mind and is contented 
with that knowledge. His figure too, well-braced 
and upright, with the back of the head carried 
like a soldier's, confirmed the impression, not so 
much of self-sufficiency, as of the sufficiency of 

8 



THE PATRICIAN 

his habits of life and thought. And there was ap- 
parent about all his movements that peculiar 
unconsciousness of his surroundings which comes 
to those who live a great deal in the public eye, 
have the material machinery of existence placed 
exactly to their hands, and never need to con- 
sider what others think of them. Taking his seat, 
and still perusing the paper, he at once began to 
eat what was put before him; then noticing that 
hjsjejdesjtdaughter had come in and was sitting 
down beside him, he said: 

'Bore having to go up in such weather !' : 

'Is it a Cabinet meeting?' 

'Yes. This confounded business of the bal- 
loons." 

But the rather anxious dark eyes of Agatha's 
delicate narrow face were taking in the details of 
a tray for keeping dishes warm on a sideboard, 
and she was thinking: 'I believe that would be 
better than those I've got, after all. If William 
would only say whether he really likes these 
large trays better than single hot- water dishes ! ' 
She contrived however to ask in her gentle voice 
for all her words and movements were gentle, 
even a little timid, till anything appeared to 
threaten the welfare of her husband or children : 

'Do you think this war scare good for Eu- 
stace's prospects, Father?' 

9 



THE PATRICIAN 

But her father did not answer; he was greeting 
a newcomer, a tall, fine-looking young man, with 
dark hair and a fair moustache, between whom 
and himself there was no relationship, yet a cer- 
tain negative resemblance. Claudjxesnay,. dis- 
count Harbinger, was indeed also a little of what 
is called the "Norman" type having a certain 
firm regularity of feature, and a slight aquilinity 
of nose high up on the bridge but that which in 
the elder man seemed to indicate only an uncon- 
scious acceptance of self as a standard, in the 
younger man gave an impression at once more 
assertive and more uneasy, as though he were a 
little afraid of not chaffing something all the 
time. 

Behind him had come in a tall woman, of full 
figure and fine presence, with hair still brown 
Lady Valleys herself. Though her eldest son was 
thirty, she was, herself, still little more than fifty. 
From her voice, manner, and whole personality, 
one might suspect that she had been an acknowl- 
edged beauty; but there was now more than a 
suspicion of maturity about her almost jovial 
face, with its full grey-blue eyes, and coar- 
sened complexion. Good comrade, and essentially 
"woman of the world," was written on every line 
of her, and in every tone of her voice. She was in- 
deed a figure suggestive of open air and generous 

10 



THE PATRICIAN 

living, endowed with abundant energy, and not 
devoid of humour. It was she who answered 
Agatha's remark. 

'Of course, my dear, the very best thing pos- 
sible." 

Lord Harbinger chimed in: 
'By the way, Brabrook's going to speak on it. 
Did you ever hear him, Lady Agatha? 'Mr. 
Speaker, Sir, I rise and with me rises the demo- 
cratic principle 

But Agatha only smiled, for she was think- 
ing: 

'If I let Ann go as far as the gate, she'll only 
make it a stepping-stone to something else to- 
morrow.' Taking no interest in public affairs, 
her inherited craving for command had resorted 
for expression to a meticulous ordering of house- 
hold matters. It was indeed a cult with her, a 
passion as though she felt herself a sort of fig- 
urehead to national domesticity; the leader of a 
patriotic movement. 

Lord Valleys, having finished what seemed 
necessary, arose. 

'Any message to your mother, Gertrude?' 

"No, I wrote last night." 

"Tell Miltoun to keep an eye on that Mr. 
Courtier. I heard him speak one day he's rather 
good." 

ii 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Valleys, who had not yet sat down, ac- 
.companied her husband to the door. 

"By the way, I've told Mother about this 
woman, Geoff." 

'Was it necessary?' 

'Well, I think so; I'm uneasy after all, 
Mother has some influence with Miltoun." 

Lord Valleys shrugged his shoulders, and 
slightly squeezing his wife's arm, went out. 

Though himself vaguely uneasy on that very 
subject, he was a man who did not go to meet 
disturbance. He had the nerves which seem to 
be no nerves at all especially found in those of 
his class who have much to do with horses. He 
temperamentally regarded the evil of the day as 
quite sufficient to it. Moreover, his eldest son 
was a riddle that he had long given up, so far as 
women were concerned. 

Emerging into the outer hall, he lingered a 
moment, remembering that he had not seen his 
younger and favourite daughter. 

"Lady Barbara down yet?" Hearing that she 
was not, he slipped into the motor coat held for 
him by Simmons, and stepped out under the 
white portico, decorated by the Caradoc hawks 
in stone. 

The voice of little Ann reached him, clear and 
high above the smothered whirring of the car. 

12 



THE PATRICIAN 



:< Come on, Grandpapa F : 

Lord Valleys grimaced beneath his crisp mous- 
tache the word grandpapa always fell queerly 
on the ears of one who was but fifty-six, and by 
no means felt it and jerking his gloved hand 
towards Ann, he said: 

"Send down to the lodge gate for this." 

The voice of little Ann answered loudly: 
'No; I'm coming back by myself." 

The car starting, drowned discussion. 

Lord Valleys, motoring, somewhat pathetically 
illustrated the invasion of institutions by their 
destroyer, Science. A supporter of the turf, and 
not long since Master of Foxhounds, most of 
whose soul (outside politics) was in horses, he 
had been, as it were, compelled by common sense, 
not only to tolerate, but to take up and even 
press forward the cause of their supplanters. His 
instinct of self-preservation was secretly at work, 
hurrying him to his own destruction; forcing him 
to persuade himself that science and her succes- 
sive victories over brute nature could be wooed 
into the service of a prestige which rested on a 
crystallised and stationary base. All this keeping 
pace with the times, this immersion in the results 
of modern discoveries, this speeding-up of exist- 
ence so that it was all surface and little root the 
increasing volatility, cosmopolitanism, and even 

13 



THE PATRICIAN 

commercialism of his life, on which he rather 
prided himself as a man of the world w r as, with 
a secrecy too deep for his perception, cutting at 
the aloofness logically demanded of one in his 
position. Stubborn, and not spiritually subtle, 
though by no means dull in practical matters, he 
was resolutely letting the waters bear him on, 
holding the tiller firmly, without perceiving that 
he was in the vortex of a whirlpool. Indeed, his 
common sense continually impelled him, against 
the sort of reactionaryism of which his son Mil- 
toun had so much, to that easier reactionaryism, 
which, living on its spiritual capital, makes what 
material capital it can out of its enemy, Progress. 
He drove the car himself, shrewd and self-con- 
tained, sitting easily, with his cap well drawn 
over those steady eyes; and though this unex- 
pected meeting of the Cabinet in the Whitsuntide 
recess was not only a nuisance, but gave food for 
anxiety, he was fully able to enjoy the swift 
smooth movement through the summer air, 
which met him with such friendly sweetness un- 
der the great trees of the long avenue. Beside him, 
little Ann was silent, with her legs stuck out 
rather wide apart. Motoring was a new excite- 
ment, for at home it was forbidden; and a medi- 
tative rapture shone in her wide eyes above her 
sudden little nose. Only once she spoke, when 

14 



THE PATRICIAN 

close to the lodge the car slowed down, and they 
passed the lodgekeeper's little daughter. 

"Hallo, Susie!" 

There was no answer, but the look on Susie's 
small pale face was so humble and adoring that 
Lord Valleys, not a very observant man, noticed 
it with a sort of satisfaction. 'Yes,' he thought, 
somewhat irrelevantly, 'the country is sound at 
heart!' 



15 




CHAPTER II 

T Ravensham House on the bor- 
ders of Richmond Park, suburban 
seat of the Casterley family, ever 
since it became usual to have a 
residence within easy driving dis- 
tance of Westminster in a large conservatory 
adjoining the hall, Lady Casterley stood in front 
of some Japanese lilies. She was a slender, short 
old woman, with an ivory-coloured face, a thin 
nose, and keen eyes half-veiled by delicate 
wrinkled lids. Very still, in her grey dress, and 
with grey hair, she gave the impression of a little 
figure carved out of fine, worn steel. Her firm, 
spidery hand held a letter written in free some- 
what sprawling style: 

"Monkland Court," 

"My DEAR MOTHER, "Devon. 

'Geoffrey is motoring up to-morrow. He'll 
look in on you on the way if he can. This new 
war scare has taken him up. I shan't be in Town 
myself till Miltoun's election is over. The fact is, 
I daren't leave him down here alone. He sees his 
'Anonyma' every day. That Mr. Courtier, who 
wrote the book against War rather cool for a 

16 



THE PATRICIAN 

man who's been a soldier of fortune, don't you 
think? is staying at the inn, working for the 
Radical. He knows her, too and, one can only 
hope, for Miltoun's sake, too well an attractive 
person, with red moustaches, rather nice and 
mad. Bertie has just come down; I must get him 
to have a talk with Miltoun, and see if he can 
find out how the land lies. One can trust Bertie 
he's really very astute. I must say, that she's 
quite a sweet-looking woman; but absolutely 
nothing's known of her here except that she di- 
vorced her husband. How does one find out 
about people? Miltoun's being so extraordinarily 
straight-laced makes it all the more awkward. 
The earnestness of this rising generation is most 
remarkable. I don't remember taking such a seri- 
ous view of life in my youth." 

Lady Casterley lowered the coronetted sheet 
of paper. The ghost of a grimace haunted her 
face she had not forgotten her daughter's youth. 
Raising the letter again, she read on: 

'I'm sure Geoffrey and I feel years younger 
than either Miltoun or Agatha, though we did 
produce them. One doesn't feel it with Bertie or 
Babs, luckily. The war scare is having an excel- 
lent effect on Miltoun's candidature. Claud Har- 

17 

frj M. 




c 







THE PATRICIAN 

binger is with us, too, working for Miltoun; but, 
as a matter of fact, I think he's after Babs. It's 
rather melancholy, when you think that Babs 
isn't quite twenty still, one can't expect any- 
thing else, I suppose, with her looks; and Claud 
is rather a fine specimen. They talk of him a lot 
now; he's quite coming to the fore among the 
young Tories." 

Lady Casterley again lowered the letter, and 
stood listening. A prolonged, muffled sound as of 
distant cheering and groans had penetrated the 
great conservatory, vibrating among the pale 
petals of the lilies and setting free their scent in 
short waves of perfume. She passed into the hall; 
where stood an old man with sallow face and 
long white whiskers. 

'What was that noise, Clifton?' 

: 'A posse of Socialists, my lady, on their way 
to Putney to hold a demonstration; the people 
are hooting them. They've got blocked just out- 
side the gates." 

'Are they making speeches?' 

'They are talking some kind of rant, my lady." 

'I'll go and hear them. Give me my black 
stick." 

Above the velvet-dark, flat-boughed cedar 
trees, which rose like pagodas of ebony on either 

18 



THE PATRICIAN 

side of the drive, the sky hung lowering in one 
great purple cloud, endowed with sinister life by 
a single white beam striking up into it from the 
horizon. Beneath this canopy of cloud a small 
phalanx of dusty, dishevelled-looking men and 
women were drawn up in the road, guarding, and 
encouraging with cheers, a tall, black-coated ora- 
tor. Before and behind this phalanx, a little mob 
of men and boys kept up an accompaniment of 
groans and jeering. 

Lady Casterley and her (< major-domo ): ' stood 
six paces inside the scrolled iron gates, and 
watched. The slight, steel-coloured figure with 
steel-coloured hair, was more arresting in its im- 
mobility than all the vociferations and gestures 
of the mob. Her eyes alone moved under their 
half-drooped lids; her right hand clutched tightly 
the handle of her stick. The speaker's voice rose 
in shrill protest against the exploitation of 'the 
people"; it sank in ironical comment on Christi- 
anity; it demanded passionately to be free from 
the continuous burden of 'this insensate mili- 
tarist taxation"; it threatened that the people 
would take things into their own hands. 

Lady Casterley turned her head: 
'He is talking nonsense, Clifton. It is going 
to rain. I shall go in." 

Under the stone porch she paused. The purple 

19 



THE PATRICIAN 

cloud had broken; a blind fury of rain was delug- 
ing the fast-scattering crowd. A faint smile came 
on Lady Casterley's lips. 

'It will do them good to have their ardour 
damped a little. You will get wet, Clifton hurry ! 
I expect Lord Valleys to dinner. Have a room got 
ready for him to dress. He's motoring from 
Monkland." 



20 




CHAPTER III 

IN a very high, white-pannelled 
room, with but little furniture, 
Lord Valleys greeted his mother- 
in-law respectfully. 

"Motored up in nine hours, 
Ma'am not bad going." 

" I am glad you came. When is Miltoun's elec- 
tion?" 

"On the twenty-ninth." 
'Pity! He should be away from Monkland, 
with that anonymous woman living there." 
"Ah ! you've heard of her !' : 
Lady Casterley replied sharply: 
c You're too easy-going, Geoffrey." 
Lord Valleys smiled. 

"These war scares," he said, :< are getting a 
bore. Can't quite make out what the feeling of 
the country is about them." 
Lady Casterley rose: 

"It has none. When war comes, the feeling 
will be all right. It always is. Give me your arm. 
Are you hungry?' . . . 

When Lord Valleys spoke of war, he spoke as 
one who, since he arrived at years of discretion, 
had lived within the circle of those who direct 

21 



THE PATRICIAN 

the destinies of States. It was for him as for the 
lilies in the great glass house impossible to see 
with the eyes, or feel with the feelings of a flower 
of the garden outside. Soaked in the best preju- 
dices and manners of his class, he lived a life no 
more shut off from the general than was to be 
expected. Indeed, in some sort, as a man of facts 
and common sense, he was fairly in touch with 
the opinion of the average citizen. He was quite 
genuine when he said that he believed he knew 
what the people wanted better than those who 
prated on the subject; and no doubt he was right, 
for temperamentally he was nearer to them than 
their own leaders, though he would not perhaps 
have liked to be told so. His man-of-the-world, 
political shrewdness had been superimposed by 
life on a nature whose prime strength was its 
practicality and lack of imagination. It was his 
business to be efficient, but not strenuous, or de- 
sirous of pushing ideas to their logical conclu- 
sions; to be neither narrow nor puritanical, so 
long as the shell of 'good form* was preserved 
intact; to be a liberal landlord up to the point of 
not seriously damaging his interests; to be well- 
disposed towards the arts until those arts re- 
vealed that which he had not before perceived; 
it was his business to have light hands, steady 
eyes, iron nerves, and those excellent manners 
that have no mannerisms. It was his nature to be 

22 



THE PATRICIAN 

easy-going as a husband; indulgent as a father; 
careful and straightforward as a politician; and 
as a man, addicted to pleasure, to work, and to 
fresh air. He admired, and was fond of his wife, 
and had never regretted his marriage. He had 
never perhaps regretted anything, unless it were 
that he had not yet won the Derby, or quite suc- 
ceeded in getting his special strain of blue-ticked 
pointers to breed absolutely true to type. His 
mother-in-law he respected, as one might respect 
a principle. 

There was indeed in the personality of that 
little old lady the tremendous force of accumu- 
lated decision the inherited assurance of one 
whose prestige had never been questioned; who, 
from long immunity, and a certain clear-cut 
matter-of-factness, bred by the habit of com- 
mand, had indeed lost the power of perceiving 
that her prestige ever could be questioned. Her 
knowledge of her own mind was no ordinary piece 
of learning, had not, in fact, been learned at all, 
but sprang full-fledged from an active dominating 
temperament. Fortified by the necessity, com- 
mon to her class, of knowing thoroughly the 
more patent side of public affairs; armoured by 
the tradition of a culture demanded by leader- 
ship; inspired by ideas, but always the same 
ideas; owning no master, but in servitude to her 
own custom of leading, she had a mind, formida- 

23 



THE PATRICIAN 

ble as the two-edged swords wielded by her an- 
cestors the Fitz-Harolds, at Agincourt or Poitiers 
-a mind which had ever instinctively rejected 
that inner knowledge of herself or of the selves 
of others, produced by those foolish practices of 
introspection, contemplation, and understanding, 
so deleterious to authority. If Lord Valleys was 
the body of the aristocratic machine, Lady Cas- 
terley was the steel spring inside it. All her life 
studiously unaffected and simple in attire; of 
plain and frugal habit; an early riser; working 
at something or other from morning till night, 
and as little worn-out at seventy-eight as most 
women of fifty, she had only one weak spot and 
that was her strength blindness as to the nature 
and size of her place in the scheme of things. 
She was a type, a force. 

Wonderfully well she went with the room in 
which they were dining, whose grey walls, sur- 
mounted by a deep frieze painted somewhat in 
the style of Fragonard, contained many nymphs 
and roses now rather dim; with the furniture, 
too, which had a look of having survived into 
times not its own. On the tables were no flowers, 
save five lilies in an old silver chalice; and on the 
wall over the great sideboard a portrait of the 
late Lord Casterley. 

** ^_ _ i ~~ 

She spoke: 

24 



THE PATRICIAN 



'I hope Miltoun is taking his own line?' 

'That's the trouble. He suffers from swollen 
principles only wish he could keep them out of 
his speeches/ 5 

'Let him be; and get him away from that 
woman as soon as his election's over. What is her 
real name?' 

'Mrs. something Lees Noel." 

'How long has she been there?' 

:< About a year, I think." 

"And you don't know anything about her?' 

Lord Valleys raised his shoulders. 

: 'Ah !" said Lady Casterley; "exactly ! You're 
letting the thing drift. I shall go down myself. 
I suppose Gertrude can have me? What has that 
Mr. Courtier to do with this good lady?' 

Lord Valleys smiled. In this smile was the 
whole of his polite and easy-going philosophy. 
'I am no meddler,' it seemed to say; and at sight 
of that smile Lady Casterley tightened her lips. 

'He is a firebrand," she said. 'I read that 
book of his against War most inflammatory. 
Aimed at Grant and Rosenstern, chiefly. I've 
just seen one of the results, outside my own gates. 
A mob of anti-War agitators." 

Lord Valleys controlled a yawn. 

"Really? I'd no idea Courtier had any influ- 
ence." 

25 



THE PATRICIAN 



: 'He is dangerous. Most idealists are negligible 
his book was clever." 

'I wish to goodness we could see the last of 
these scares, they only make both countries look 
foolish," muttered Lord Valleys. 

Lady Casterley raised her glass, full of a blood- 
red wine. 'The war would save us," she said. 

'War is no joke." 

' It would be the beginning of a better state of 
things." 

"You think so?" 

'We should get the lead again as a nation, 
and Democracy would be put back fifty years." 

Lord Valleys made three little heaps of salt, 
and paused to count them; then, with a slight 
uplifting of his eyebrows, which seemed to doubt 
what he was going to say, he murmured: 'I 
should have said that we were all democrats 
nowadays. . . . What is it, Clifton?' 

'Your chauffeur would like to know, what 
time you will have the car?' 

'Directly after dinner." 

Twenty minutes later, he was turning through 
the scrolled iron gates into the road for London. 
It was falling dark; and in the tremulous sky 
clouds drifted here and there with a sort of end- 
less lack of purpose. No direction seemed to have 
been decreed unto their wings. They had met to- 

26 



THE PATRICIAN 

gather in the firmament like a flock of giant mag- 
pies crossing and re-crossing each other's flight. 
The smell of rain was in the air. The car raised 
no dust, but bored swiftly on, searching out 
the road with its lamps. On Putney Bridge its 
march was stayed by a string of waggons. Lord 
Valleys looked to right and left. The river re- 
flected the thousand lights of buildings piled 
along her sides, lamps of the embankments, lan- 
terns of moored barges. The sinuous pallid body 
of this great Creature, forever gliding down to 
the sea, roused in his mind no symbolic image. 
He had had to do with her, years back, at the 
Board of Trade, and knew her for what she was, 
extremely dirty, and getting abominably thin 
just where he would have liked her plump. Yet, 
as he lighted a cigar, there came to him a queer 
feeling as if he were in the presence of a woman 
he was fond of. 

'I hope to God,' he thought, 'nothing' II come 
of these scares !' The car glided on into the long 
road, swarming with traffic, towards the fashion- 
able heart of London. Outside stationers' shops, 
however, the posters of evening papers were of 
no reassuring order. 

"THE PLOT THICKENS." 

"MORE REVELATIONS." 

"GRAVE SITUATION THREATENED." 

27 



THE PATRICIAN 

And before each poster could be seen a little 
eddy in the stream of the passers-by- -formed by 
persons glancing at the news, and disengaging 
themselves, to press on again. The Earl of Val- 
leys caught himself wondering what they thought 
of it ! What was passing behind those pale rounds 
of flesh turned towards the posters? 

Did they think at all, these men and women 
in the street? What was their attitude towards 
this vaguely threatened cataclysm? Face after 
face, stolid and apathetic, expressed nothing, no 
active desire, certainly no enthusiasm, hardly 
any dread. Poor devils ! The thing, after all, was 
no more within their control than it was within 
the power of ants to stop the ruination of their 
ant-heap by some passing boy ! It was no doubt 
quite true, that the people had never had much 
voice in the making of war. And the words of a 
Radical weekly, which as an impartial man he 
always forced himself to read, recurred to him. 
* Ignorant of the facts, hypnotised by the words 
'Country' and 'Patriotism'; in the grip of mob- 
instinct and inborn prejudice against the for- 
eigner; helpless by reason of his patience, stoi- 
cism, good faith, and confidence in those above 
him; helpless by reason of his snobbery, mutual 
distrust, carelessness for the morrow, and lack 
of public spirit in the face of War how impo- 

28 



THE PATRICIAN 

tent and to be pitied is the man in the street P : 
That paper, though clever, always seemed to him 
intolerably hi-falutin* ! 

It was doubtful whether he would get to Ascot 
this year. And his mind flew for a moment to his 
promising two-year-old Casetta; then dashed al- 
most violently, as though in shame, to the Ad- 
miralty and the doubt whether they were fully 
alive to possibilities. He himself occupied a softer 
spot of Government, one of those almost nominal 
offices necessary to qualify into the Cabinet cer- 
tain tried minds, for whom no more strenuous 
post can for the moment be found. From the Ad- 
miralty again his thoughts leaped to his mother- 
in-law. Wonderful old woman ! What a statesman 
she would have made ! Too reactionary ! Deuce 
of a straight line she had taken about Mrs. Lees 
Noel ! And with a connoisseur's twinge of plea- 
sure he recollected that lady's face and figure seen 
this morning as he passed her cottage. Mysteri- 
ous or not, the woman was certainly attractive ! 
Very graceful head with its dark hair waved back 
from the middle over either temple very charm- 
ing figure, no lumber of any sort ! Bouquet about 
her ! Some story or other, no doubt, no affair of 
his ! Always sorry for that sort of woman ! 

A regiment of Territorials returning from a 
march stayed the progress of his car. He leaned 

29 



THE PATRICIAN 

forward watching them with much the same 
contained, shrewd, critical look he would have 
bent on a pack of hounds. All the mistiness and 
speculation in his mind was gone now. Good 
stamp of man, would give a capital account of 
themselves ! Their faces, flushed by a day in the 
open, were masked with passivity, or with a half- 
aggressive, half- jocular self-consciousness; they 
were clearly not troubled by abstract doubts, or 
any visions of the horrors of war. 

Someone raised a cheer 'for the Terriers!' 
Lord Valleys saw round him a little sea of hats, 
rising and falling, and heard a sound, rather shrill 
and tentative, swell into hoarse, high clamour, 
and suddenly die out. 'Seem keen enough!' he 
thought. 'Very little does it! Plenty of fighting 
spirit in the country.' And again a thrill of plea- 
sure shot through him. 

Then, as the last soldier passed, his car slowly 
forged its way through the straggling crowd, 
pressing on behind the regiment men of all 
ages, youths, a few women, young girls, who 
turned their eyes on him with a negligent stare as 
if their lives were too remote to permit them to 
take interest in this passing man at ease. 




CHAPTER IV 

[T Monkland, that same hour, in 
the little white-washed 'with- 
drawing-room j: of a thatched, 
white-washed cottage, two men 
sat talking, one on either side of 
the hearth; and in a low chair between them a 
dark-eyed woman leaned back, watching, the 
tips of her delicate thin fingers pressed together, 
or held out transparent towards the fire. A log, 
dropping now and then, turned up its glowing 
underside; and the firelight and the lamplight 
seemed so to have soaked into the white walls 
that a wan warmth exuded. Silvery dun moths, 
fluttering in from the dark garden, kept vibrat- 
ing like spun shillings, over a jade-green bowl 
of crimson roses; and there was a scent, as ever 
in that old thatched cottage, of wood-smoke, 
flowers, and sweetbriar. 

The man on the left was perhaps forty, rather 
above Iniddle height, vigorous, active, straight, 
with blue eyes and a sanguine face which glowed 
on small provocation. His hair was very bright, 
almost red, and his fiery moustaches descending 

^ ^ ^rrm nrntjr i i laimi ^i ui m " ^"""* l " 

31 



THE PATRICIAN 

to the level of his chin, like Don Quixote's, seemed 
bristling and charging. 

The man on the right was nearer thirty, evi- 
dently tall, wiry, and very thin. He sat rather 
crumpled, in his low armchair, with hands 
clasped round a knee; and a little crucified smile 
haunted the lips of his lean face, which, In "its 
parchmenty, tanned, shaven cheeks, and deep- 
set, very living eyes, had a certain beauty. 

These two men, so extravagantly unlike, 
looked at each other like neighbouring dogs, 
who, having long decided that they are better 
apart, suddenly find that they have met at some 
spot where they cannot possibly have a fight. 
And the woman watched; the owner, as it were, 
of one, but who, from sheer love of dogs, had 
always stroked and patted the other. 

'So, Mr. Courtier/' said the younger man, 
whose dry, ironic voice, like his smile, seemed 
defending the fervid spirit in his eyes; 'all you 
say only amounts, you see, to a defence of the 
so-called Liberal spirit; and, forgive my candour, 
that spirit, being an importation from the realms 
of philosophy and art, withers the moment it 
touches practical affairs." 

The man with the red moustaches laughed; the 
sound was queer at once so genial and so sar- 
donic. 

32 



THE PATRICIAN 

"Well put !" he said: "And far be it from me 
to gainsay. But since compromise is the very es- 
sence of politics, high-priests of caste and author- 
ity, like you, Lord Miltoun, are every bit as 
much out of it as any Liberal professor.' 3 

"I don't agree!" 

:c Agree or not, your position towards public 
affairs is very like the Church's attitude towards 
marriage and divorce; as remote from the reali- 
ties of life as the attitude of the believer in Free 
Love, and not more likely to catch on. The death 
of your point of view lies in itself it's too dried- 
up and far from things ever to understand them. 
If you don't understand you can never rule. 
You might just as well keep your hands in your 
pockets, as go into politics with your notions !' 

'I fear we must continue to agree to dif- 
fer." 

'Well, perhaps I do pay you too high a com- 
pliment. After all, you are a patrician." 

c You speak in riddles, Mr. Courtier." 

The dark-eyed woman stirred; her hands gave 
a sort of flutter, as though in deprecation of 
acerbity. 

Rising at once, and speaking in a deferential 
voice, the elder man said: 

'We're tiring Mrs. Noel. Good-night, Audrey. 
It's high time I was off." Against the darkness of 

33 



THE PATRICIAN 

the open French window, he turned round to fire 
a parting shot. 

"What I meant, Lord Miltoun, was that your 
class is the driest and most practical in the State 
it's odd if it doesn't save you from a poet's 
dreams. Good-night!' He passed out on to the 
lawn, and vanished. 

The young man sat unmoving; the glow of the 
fire had caught his face, so that a spirit seemed 
clinging round his lips, gleaming out of his eyes. 
Suddenly he said: 

"Do you believe that, Mrs. Noel?" 

For answer Audrey Noel smiled, then rose and 
went over to the window. 

' Look at my dear toad ! It comes here every 
evening!' 

On a flagstone of the verandah, in the centre 
of the stream of lamplight, sat a little golden 
toad. As Miltoun came to look, it waddled to one 
side, and vanished. 

'How peaceful your garden is !" he said; then 
taking her hand, he very gently raised it to his 
lips, and followed his opponent out into the dark- 
ness. 

Truly peace brooded over that garden. The 
Night seemed listening all lights out, all hearts 
at rest. It watched, with a little white star for 
every tree, and roof, and slumbering tired flower, 

34 



THE PATRICIAN 

as a mother watches her sleeping child, leaning 
above him and counting with her love every hair 
of his head, and all his tiny tremors. 

Argument seemed child's babble indeed under 
the smile of Night. And the face of the woman, 
left alone at her window, was a little like the face 
of this warm, sweet night. It was sensitive, har- 
monious; and its harmony was not, as in some 
faces, cold but seemed to tremble and glow and 
flutter, as though it were a spirit which had 
found its place of resting. 

In her garden, all velvety grey, with black 
shadows beneath the yew-trees, the white 
flowers alone seemed to be awake, and to look 
at her wistfully. The trees stood dark and still. 
Not even the night birds stirred. Alone, the little 
stream down in the bottom raised its voice, 
privileged when day voices were hushed. 

It was not in Audrey Noel to deny herself to 
any spirit that was abroad; to repel was an art 
she did not practise. But this night she did not 
seem to know that the Spirit of Peace hovered 
so near. Her hands trembled, her cheeks were 
burning; her breast heaved, and sighs fluttered 
from her lips, just parted. 



35 




CHAPTER V 

iUSTACE CARADOC, Viscount 
Miltoun, Had lived a very lonely 
life, since he first began to under- 
stand the peculiarities of exist- 
ence. With the exception of Clif- 
ton, his grandmother's <r major-domo/' he made, 
as a small child, no intimate friend. His nurses, 
governesses, tutors, by their own confession did 
not understand him, finding that he took himself 
with unnecessary seriousness; a little afraid, too, 
of one whom they discovered to be capable of 
pushing things to the point of enduring pain in 
silence. Much of that early time was passed at 
Ravensham, for he had always been Lady Cas- 
terley's favourite grandchild. She recognised in 
him the purposeful austerity which had somehow 
been omitted from the composition of her daugh- 
ter. But only to Clifton, then a man of fifty with 
a great gravity and long black whiskers, did Eu- 
stace relieve his soul. "I tell you this, Clifton," 
he would say, sitting on the sideboard, or the 
arm of the big chair in Clifton's room, or wander- 
ing amongst the raspberries, * because you are 
my friend." 

36 



THE PATRICIAN 

And Clifton, with his head a little on one side, 
and a sort of wise concern at his "friend's" con- 
fidences, which were sometimes of an embarrass- 
ing description, would answer now and then: 
"Of course, my lord/ 3 but more often: 'Of 
course, my dear." 

There was in this friendship something fine and 
suitable, neither of these "friends" taking or suf- 
fering liberties, and both being interested in 
pigeons, which they would stand watching with 
a remarkable attention. 

In course of time, following the tradition of his 
family, Eustace went to Harrow. He was there 
five years always one of those boys a little out 
at wrists and ankles, who may be seen slouching, 
solitary, along the pavement to their own haunts, 
rather dusty, and with one shoulder slightly 
raised above the other, from the habit of carry- 
ing something beneath one arm. Saved from 
being thought a "smug," by his title, his lack of 
any conspicuous scholastic ability, his obvious 
independence of what was thought of him, and a 
sarcastic tongue, which no one was eager to en- 
counter, he remained the ugly duckling who re- 
fused to paddle properly in the green ponds of 
Public School tradition. He played games so 
badly that in sheer self-defence his fellows per- 
mitted him to play without them. Of 'fives' 1 

37 



THE PATRICIAN 

they made an exception, for in this he attained 
much proficiency, owing to a certain windmill- 
like quality of limb. He was noted too for dar- 
ing chemical experiments, of which he usually 
had one or two brewing, surreptitiously at first, 
and afterwards by special permission of his house- 
master, on the principle that if a room must 
smell, it had better smell openly. He made few 
friendships, but these were lasting. His Latin 
verse was so poor, and his Greek verse so vile, 
that all had been surprised when towards the 
finish of his career he showed a very considerable 
power of writing and speaking his own language. 
He left school without a pang. But when in the 
train he saw the old Hill and the old spire on the 
top of it fading away from him, a lump rose in 
his throat, he swallowed violently two or three 
times, and, thrusting himself far back into the 
carriage corner, appeared to sleep. 

At Oxford, he was happier, but still compara- 
tively lonely; remaining, so long as custom per- 
mitted, in lodgings outside his College, and cling- 
ing thereafter to remote, panelled rooms high 
up, overlooking the gardens and a portion of the 
city wall. It was at Oxford that he first developed 
that passion for self-discipline which afterwards 
distinguished him. He took up rowing; and, 
though thoroughly unsuited by nature to this 

38 



THE PATRICIAN 

pastime, secured himself a place in his College 
'torpid." At the end of a race he was usually 
supported from his stretcher in a state of extreme 
extenuation, due to having pulled the last quar- 
ter of the course entirely with his spirit. The same 
craving for self-discipline guided him in the 
choice of Schools; he went out in ''Greats," for 
which, owing to his indifferent mastery of Greek 
and Latin, he was the least fitted. With enor- 
mous labour he took a very fair degree. He car- 
ried off besides, the highest distinctions of the 
University for English Essays. The ordinary cir- 
cles of College life knew nothing of him. Not once 
in the whole course of his University career, was 
he the better for wine. He did not hunt; he never 
talked of women, and none talked of women in 
his presence. But now and then he was visited 
by those gusts which come to the ascetic, when 
all life seemed suddenly caught up and devoured 
by a flame burning night and day, and going out 
mercifully, he knew not why, like a blown candle. 
However unsocial in the proper sense of the word, 
he by no means lacked company in these Oxford 
days. He knew many, both dons and under- 
graduates. His long stride, and determined ab- 
sence of direction, had severely tried all those 
who could stomach so slow a pastime as walking 
for the sake of talking. The country knew him- 

39 



THE PATRICIAN 

though he never knew the country- -from Abing- 
don to Bablock Hythe. His name stood high, too, 
at the Union, where he made his mark during his 
first term in a debate on a "Censorship of Litera- 
ture,' 3 which he advocated with gloom, perti- 
nacity, and a certain youthful brilliance which 
might well have carried the day, had not an 
Irishman got up and pointed out the danger 
hanging over the Old Testament. To that he had 
retorted: 'Better, sir, it should run a risk than 
have no risk to run." From which moment he 
was notable. 

He stayed up four years, and went down with 
a sense of bewilderment and loss. The matured 
verdict of Oxford on this child of hers, was 
"Eustace Miltoun ! Ah! Queer bird! Will make 
his mark! 1 

He had about this time an interview with his 
father which confirmed the impression each had 
formed of the other. It took place in the library 
at Monkland Court, on a late November after- 
noon. 

The light of eight candles in thin silver candle- 
sticks, four on either side of the carved stone 
hearth, illumined that room. Their gentle radi- 
ance penetrated but a little way into the great 
dark space lined with books, panelled and floored 
with black oak, where the acrid fragrance of 

4 




THE PATRICIAN 



leather and dried rose-leaves seemed to drench 
the very soul with the aroma of the past. Above 
the huge fireplace, with light falling on one side 
of his shaven face, hung a portrait painter un- 
known of that Cardinal Caradoc who suffered 
for hiSL faith in the^sixteenth century. Ascetic, 
crucified, with a little smile clinging to the lips 
and deep-set eyes, he presided, above the blue- 
ish flames of a log fire. 

Father and son found some difficulty in begin- 
ning. 

Each of those two felt as though he were in the 
presence of someone else's very near relation. 
They had, in fact, seen extremely little of each 
other, and not seen that little long. 

Lord Valleys uttered the first remark: 
'Well, my dear fellow, what are you going to 
do now? I think we can make certain of this seat 
down here, if you like to stand." 

Miltoun had answered: "Thanks very much; 
I don't think so at present." 

Through the thin fume of his cigar Lord Val- 
leys watched that long figure sunk deep in the 
chair opposite. 

'Why not?' he said. "You can't begin too 
soon; unless you think you ought to go round the 
world." 

'Before I can become a man of it?' 

41 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lord Valleys gave a rather disconcerted laugh. 
'There's nothing in politics you can't pick up 
as you go along/ 3 he said. 'How old are you?' 

"Twenty-four." 

'You look older." A faint line, as of contem- 
plation, rose between his eyes. Was it fancy that 
a little smile was hovering about Miltoun's 
lips? 

'I've got a foolish theory," came from those 
lips, 'that one must know the conditions first. 
I want to give at least five years to that." 

Lord Valleys raised his eyebrows. 'Waste of 
time," he said. ' You'd know more at the end of 
it, if you went into the House at once. You take 
the matter too seriously." 

"No doubt." 

For fully a minute Lord Valleys made no an- 
swer; he felt almost ruffled. Waiting till the sen- 
sation had passed, he said : ' ' Well, my dear fel- 
low, as you please." 

Miltoun's apprenticeship to the profession of 
politics was served in a slum settlement; on his 
father's estates; in Chambers at the Temple; in 
expeditions to Germany, America, and the Brit- 
ish Colonies; in work at elections; and in two for- 
lorn hopes to capture a constituency which could 
be trusted not to change its principles. He read 
much, slowly, but with conscientious tenacity, 

42 



THE PATRICIAN 

poetry, history, and works on philosophy, re- 
ligion, and social matters. Fiction, and especially 
foreign fiction, he did not care for. With the ut- 
most desire to be wide and impartial, he sucked 
in what ministered to the wants of his nature, 
rejecting unconsciously all that by its unsuita- 
bility endangered the flame of his private spirit. 
What he read, in fact, served only to strengthen 
those profounder convictions which arose from 
his temperament. With a contempt of the vulgar 
gewgaws of wealth and rank he combined a hum- 
ble but intense and growing conviction of his 
capacity for leadership, of a spiritual superiority 
to those whom he desired to benefit. There was 
no trace, indeed, of the common Pharisee in 
Miltoun, he was simple and direct; but his eyes, 
his gestures, the whole man, proclaimed the pres- 
ence of some secret spring of certainty, some 
fundamental well into which no disturbing glim- 
mers penetrated. He was not devoid of wit, but 
he was devoid of that kind of wit which turns its 
eyes inward, and sees something of the fun that 
lies in being what you are. Miltoun saw the world 
and all the things thereof shaped like spires 
even when they were circles. He seemed to have 
no sense that the Universe was equally com- 
pounded of those two symbols, whose point of 
reconciliation had not yet been discovered. 

43 



THE PATRICIAN 

Such was he, then, when the Member for his 
native division was made a peer. 

He had reached the age of thirty without ever 
having been in love, leading a life of almost sav- 
age purity, with one solitary breakdown. Women 
were afraid of him. And he was perhaps a little 
afraid of woman. She was in theory too lovely 
and desirable the half- moon in a summer sky; 
in practice too cloying, or too harsh. He had an 
affection for Barbara, his younger sister; but to 
his mother, his grandmother, or his eldest sister 
Agatha, he had never felt close. It was indeed 
amusing to see Lady Valleys with her first-born. 
Her fine figure, the blown roses of her face, her 
grey-blue eyes which had a slight tendency to 
roll, as though amusement just touched with 
naughtiness bubbled behind them, were reduced 
to a queer, satirical decorum in Miltoun's pres- 
ence. Thoughts and sayings verging on the risky 
were characteristic of her robust physique, of her 
soul which could afford to express almost all that 
occurred to it. Miltoun had never, not even as a 
child, given her his confidence. She bore him no 
resentment, being of that large, generous build 
in body and mind, rarely never in her class- 
associated with the capacity for feeling aggrieved 
or lowered in any estimation, even its own. He 
was, and always had been, an odd boy, and there 

44 



THE PATRICIAN 

was an end of it ! Nothing had perhaps so dis- 
concerted Lady Valleys as his want of behaviour 
in regard to women. She felt it abnormal, just as 
she recognised the essential if duly veiled nor- 
mality of her husband and younger son. It was 
this feeling which made her realise almost more 
vividly than she had time for, in the whirl of 
politics and fashion, the danger of his friendship 
with this lady to whom she alluded so discreetly 
as "Anonyma." 

Pure chance had been responsible for the in- 
ception of that friendship. Going one December 
afternoon to the farmhouse of a tenant, just 
killed by a fall from his horse, Miltoun had found 
the widow in a state of bewildered grief, thinly 
cloaked in the manner of one who had almost lost 
the power to express her feelings, and had quite 
lost it in the presence of 'the gentry." Having 
assured the poor soul that she need have no fear 
about her tenancy, he was just leaving, when he 
met, in the stone-flagged entrance, a lady in a 
fur cap and jacket, carrying in her arms a little 
crying boy, bleeding from a cut on the forehead. 
Taking him from her and placing him on a table 
in the parlour, Miltoun looked at this lady, and 
saw that she was extremely grave, and soft, and 
charming. He inquired of her whether the mother 
should be told. 

45 



THE PATRICIAN 

She shook her head. 

'Poor thing, not just now: let's wash it, and 
bind it up first." 

Together therefore they washed and bound up 
the cut. Having finished, she looked at Miltoun, 
and seemed to say: 'You would do the telling so 
much better than I/ 

He, therefore, told the mother and was re- 
warded by a little smile from the grave lady. 

From that meeting he took away the knowl- 
edge of her name, Audrey Lees Noel, and the re- 
membrance of a face, whose beauty, under a cap 
of squirrel's fur, pursued him. Some days later 
passing by the village green, he saw her entering 
a garden gate. On this occasion he had asked her 
whether she would like her cottage re-thatched; 
an inspection of the roof had followed; he had 
stayed talking a long time. Accustomed to 
women over the best of whom, for all their 
grace and lack of affectation, high-caste life had 
wrapped the manner which seems to take all 
things for granted there was a peculiar charm 
for Miltoun in this soft, dark-eyed lady who evi- 
dently lived quite out of the world, and had so 
poignant, and shy, a flavour. Thus from a chance 
seed had blossomed swiftly one of those rare 
friendships between lonely people, which can in 
short time fill great spaces of two lives. 



THE PATRICIAN 

One day she asked him: "You know about me, 
I suppose?" Miltoun made a motion of his head, 
signifying that he did. His informant had been 
the vicar. 

c Yes, I am told, her story is a sad one a 
divorce." 

"Do you mean that she has been divorced, 
or " 

For the fraction of a second the vicar perhaps 
had hesitated. 

;< Oh! no no. Sinned against, I am sure. A 
nice woman, so far as I have seen; though I'm 
afraid not one of my congregation." 

With this, Miltoun, in whom chivalry had al- 
ready been awakened, was content. When she 
asked if he knew her story, he would not for the 
world have had her rake up what was painful. 
Whatever that story, she could not have been 
to blame. She had begun already to be shaped 
by his own spirit; had become not a human being 
as it was, but an expression of his aspiration. . . . 

On the third evening after his passage of arms 
with Courtier, he was again at her little white 
cottage sheltering within its high garden walls. 
Smothered in roses, and with a black-brown 
thatch overhanging the old-fashioned leaded 
panes of the upper windows, it had an air of 

47 



THE PATRICIAN 

hiding from the world. Behind, as though on 
guard, two pine trees spread their dark boughs 
over the outhouses, and in any south-west wind 
could be heard speaking gravely about the 
weather. Tall lilac bushes flanked the garden, 
and a huge lime-tree in the adjoining field sighed 
and rustled, or on still days let forth the drowsy 
hum of countless small dusky bees who fre- 
quented that green hostelry. 

He found her altering a dress, sitting over it in 
her specially delicate fashion as if all objects 
whatsoever, dresses, flowers, books, music, re- 
quired from her the same sympathy. 

He had come from a long day's electioneering, 
had been heckled at two meetings, and was still 
sore from the experience. To watch her, to be 
soothed, and ministered to by her had never been 
so restful; and stretched out in a long chair he 
listened to her playing. 

Over the hill a Pierrot moon was slowly mov- 
ing up in a sky the colour of grey irises. And in a 
sort of trance Miltoun stared at the burnt-out 
star, travelling in bright pallor. 

Across the moor a sea of shallow mist was roll- 
ing; and the trees in the valley, like browsing 
cattle, stood knee-deep in whiteness, with all the 
air above them wan from an innumerable rain 
as of moon-dust, falling into that white sea. Then 

48 



THE PATRICIAN 

the moon passed behind the lime-tree, so that a 
great lighted Chinese lantern seemed to hang 
blue-black from the sky. 

Suddenly, jarring and shivering the music, 
came a sound of hooting. It swelled, died away, 
and swelled again. 

Miltoun rose. 

'That has spoiled my vision,'" he said. 'Mrs. 
Noel, I have something I want to say." But look- 
ing down at her, sitting so still, with her hands 
resting on the keys, he was silent in sheer adora- 
tion. 

A voice from the door ejaculated: 

'Oh ! ma'am oh ! my lord ! They're devilling 
a gentleman on the green ! ' 



49 




CHAPTER VI 

HEN the immortal Don set out 
to ring all the bells of merriment, 
he was followed by one clown. 
Charles Courtier on the other 
hand had always been accom- 
panied by thousands, who really could not un- 
derstand the conduct of this man with no 
commercial sense. But though he puzzled his 
contemporaries, they did not exactly laugh at 
him, because it was reported that he had really 
killed some men, and loved some women. They 
found such a combination irresistible, when 
coupled with an appearance both vigorous and 
gallant. The son of an Oxfordshire clergyman, 
and mounted on a lost cause, he had been riding 
through the world ever since he was eighteen, 
without once getting out of the saddle. The 
secret of this endurance lay perhaps in his un- 
consciousness that he was in the saddle at all. 
It was as much his natural seat as office stools 
to other mortals. He made no capital out of er- 
rantry, his temperament being far too like his 
red-gold hair, which people compared to flames, 
consuming all before them. His vices were pat- 

50 



THE PATRICIAN 

ent; too incurable an optimism; an admiration 
for beauty such as must sometimes have caused 
him to forget which woman he was most in love 
with; too thin a skin; too hot a heart; hatred 
of humbug, and habitual neglect of his own in- 
terest. Unmarried, with many friends, and many 
enemies, he kept his body like a sword-blade, 
his soul always at white heat. 

That one who admitted to having taken part 
in five wars should be mixing in a by-election in 
the cause of Peace, was not so inconsistent as 
might be supposed; for he had always fought on 
the losing side, and there seemed to him at the 
moment no side so losing as that of Peace. No 
great politician, he was not an orator, nor even 
a glib talker; yet a quiet mordancy of tongue, 
and the white-hot look in his eyes, never failed 
to make an impression of some kind on an audi- 
ence. 

There was, however, hardly a corner of Eng- 
land where orations on behalf of Peace had a 
poorer chance than the Bucklandbury division. 
To say that Courtier had made himself unpop- 
ular with its matter-of-fact, independent, stolid, 
yet quick-tempered population, would be inade- 
quate. He had outraged their beliefs, and roused 
the most profound suspicions. They could not, 
for the life of them, make out what he was at. 



THE PATRICIAN 

Though by his adventures and his book, t{ Peace 
-a lost Cause," he was, in London, a conspicu- 
ous figure, they had naturally never heard of him; 
and his adventure to these parts seemed to them 
an almost ludicrous example of pure idea poking 
its nose into plain facts the idea that nations 
ought to, and could live in peace being so very 
pure; and the fact that they never had, so very 
plain ! 

At Monkland, which was all Court estate, 
there were naturally but few supporters of Mil- 
toun's opponent, Mr. Humphrey Chilcox, and 
the reception accorded to the champion of Peace 
soon passed from curiosity to derision, from deri- 
sion to menace, till Courtier's attitude became 
so defiant, and his sentences so heated that he 
was only saved from a rough handling by the in- 
fluential interposition of the vicar. 

Yet when he began to address them he had 
felt irresistibly attracted. They looked such cap- 
ital, independent fellows. Waiting for his turn 
to speak, he had marked them down as men after 
his own heart. For though Courtier knew that 
against an unpopular idea there must always be 
a majority, he never thought so ill of any indi- 
vidual as to suppose him capable of belonging to 
that ill-omened body. 

Surely these fine, independent fellows were not 

52 



THE PATRICIAN 

to be hoodwinked by the Jingoes ! It had been 
one more disillusion. He had not taken it lying 
down; neither had his audience. They dispersed 
without forgiving; they came together again 
without having forgotten. 

The village Inn, a little white building whose 
small windows were overgrown with creepers, 
had a single guest's bedroom on the upper floor, 
and a little sitting-room where Courtier took his 
meals. The rest of the house was but stone- 
floored bar with a long wooden bench against the 
back wall, whence nightly a stream of talk would 
issue, all harsh a's, and sudden soft us; whence 
too a figure, a little unsteady, would now and 
again emerge, to a chorus of 'Gude naights," 
stand still under the ash-trees to light his pipe, 
then move slowly home. 

But on that evening, when the trees, like cat- 
tle, stood knee-deep in the moon-dust, those who 
came out from the bar-room did not go away; 
they hung about in the shadows, and were joined 
by other figures creeping furtively through the 
bright moonlight, from behind the Inn. Presently 
more figures moved up from the lanes and the 
churchyard path, till thirty or more were hud- 
dled there, and their stealthy murmur of talk 
distilled a rare savour of illicit joy. Unholy hi- 
larity, indeed, seemed lurking in the deep tree- 

53 



THE PATRICIAN 

shadow, before the wan Inn, whence from a single 
lighted window came forth the half-chanting 
sound of a man's voice reading out loud. Laugh- 
ter was smothered, talk whispered. 

'He'm a-practisin' his spaches." * Smoke the 
cunnin' old vox out !' * Red pepper's the proper 
stuff." 'See mun sneeze ! We've a-scriied up the 
door." 

Then, as a face showed at the lighted window, 
a burst of harsh laughter broke the hush. 

He at the window was seen struggling vio- 
lently to wrench away a bar. The laughter 
swelled to hooting. The prisoner forced his way 
through, dropped to the ground, rose, staggered, 
and fell. 

A voice said sharply: 

"What's this?" 

Out of the sounds of scuffling and scattering 
came the whisper: 'His lordship!' And the 
shade under the ash-trees became deserted, save 
by the tall dark figure of a man, and a woman's 
white shape. 

" Is that you, Mr. Courtier? Are you hurt?' 

A chuckle rose from the recumbent figure. 

:< OnIy my knee. The beggars ! They precious 
nearly choked me, though." 



54 




CHAPTER VII 

ERTIE CARADOC, leaving the 
smoking-room at Monkland 
Court that same evening, on his 
way to bed, went to the Georgian 
corridor, where his pet barometer 
was hanging. To look at the glass had become the 
nightly habit of one who gave all the time he 
could spare from his profession to hunting in 
the winter and to racing in the summer. 

The Hon. Hubert Caradoc, an apprentice to 
the calling of diplomacy, more completely than 
an^TTvrrig Caradoc embodied the characteristic 
strength and weaknesses of that family. He was 
of fair height, and wiry build. His weathered face, 
under sleek, dark hair, had regular, rather small 
features, and wore an expression of alert resolu- 
tion, masked by impassivity. Over his inquiring, 
hazel-grey eyes the lids were almost religiously 
kept half drawn. He had been born reticent, and 
great, indeed, was the emotion under which he 
suffered when the whole of his eyes were visible. 
His nose was finely chiselled, and had little flesh. 
His lips, covered by a small, dark moustache, 
scarcely opened to emit his speeches, which were 

55 



THE PATRICIAN 

uttered in a voice singularly muffled, yet unex- 
pectedly quick. The whole personality was that 
of a man practical, spirited, guarded, resourceful, 
with great power of self-control, who looked at 
life as if she were a horse under him, to whom he 
must give way just so far as was necessary to 
keep mastery of her. A man to whom ideas were 
of no value, except when wedded to immediate 
action; essentially neat; demanding to be "done 
well," but capable of stoicism if necessary; ur- 
bane, yet always in readiness to thrust; able only 
to condone the failings and to compassionate the 
kinds of distress which his own experience had 
taught him to understand. Such was Miltoun's 
younger brother at the age of twenty-six. 

Having noted that the glass was steady, he was 
about to seek the stairway, when he saw at the 
farther end of the entrance-hall three figures ad- 
vancing arm-in-arm. Habitually both curious 
and wary, he waited till they came within the 
radius of a lamp; then, seeing them to be those 
of Miltoun and a footman, supporting between 
them a lame man, he at once hastened forward. 
'Have you put your knee out, sir? Hold on a 
minute ! Get a chair, Charles." 

Seating the stranger in this chair, Bertie rolled 
up the trouser, and passed his fingers round the 
knee. There was a sort of loving-kindness in that 



THE PATRICIAN 

movement, as of a hand which had in its time 
felt the joints and sinews of innumerable horses. 
'H'm!' he said; 'can you stand a bit of a 
jerk? Catch hold of him behind, Eustace. Sit 
down on the floor, Charles, and hold the legs of 
the chair. Now then !" And taking up the foot, he 
pulled. There was a click, a little noise of teeth 
ground together; and Bertie said: "Good man 
shan't have to have the vet. to you, this time." 

Having conducted their lame guest to a room 
in the Georgian corridor hastily converted to a 
bedroom, the two brothers presently left him to 
the attentions of the footman. 

'Well, old man," said Bertie, as they sought 
their rooms; "that's put paid to his name won't 
do you any more harm this journey. Good 
plucked one, though!' 

The report that Courtier was harboured be- 
neath their roof went the round of the family 
before breakfast, through the agency of one 
whose practice it was to know all things, and to 
see that others partook of that knowledge. Little 
Ann, paying her customary morning visit to her 
mother's room, took her stand with face turned 
up and hands clasping her belt, and began at 
once. 

' Uncle Eustace brought a man last night with 
a wounded leg, and Uncle Bertie pulled it out 

57 



THE PATRICIAN 

straight. William says that Charles says he only 
made a noise like this" there was a faint sound 
of small chumping teeth: "And he's the man 
that's staying at the Inn, and the stairs were too 
narrow to carry him up, William says ; and if his 
knee was put out he won't be able to walk with- 
out a stick for a long time. Can I go to Father?' 
Agatha, who was having her hair brushed, 
thought : 

'I'm not sure whether belts so low as that are 
wholesome'; and murmured: "Wait a minute !' : 
But little Ann was gone; and her voice could 
be heard in the dressing-room climbing up 
towards Sir William, who from the sound of his 
replies, was manifestly shaving. When Agatha, 
who never could resist a legitimate opportunity 
of approaching her husband, looked in, he was 
alone, and rather thoughtful a tall man with a 
solid, steady face and cautious eyes, not in truth 
remarkable except to his own wife. 

'That fellow Courtier's caught by the leg," he 
said. * Don't know what your Mother will say 
to an enemy in the camp." 

'Isn't he a freethinker, and rather 

Sir William, following his own thoughts, inter- 
rupted : 

'Just as well, of course, so far as Miltoun's 
concerned, to have got him here." 



THE PATRICIAN 

Agatha sighed: "Well, I suppose we shall have 
to be nice to him. I'll tell Mother." 

Sir William smiled. 

"Ann will see to that," he said. 

Ann was seeing to that. 

Seated in the embrasure of the window behind 
the looking-glass, where Lady Valleys was still 
occupied, she was saying: 

'He fell out of the window because of the red 
pepper. Miss Wallace says he is a hostage what 
does hostage mean, Granny?' 

When six years ago that word had first fallen 
on Lady Valleys' ears, she had thought: 'Oh! 
dear ! Am I really Granny?' It had been a shock, 
had seemed the end of so much; but the matter- 
of-fact heroism of women, so much quicker to 
accept the inevitable than men, had soon come 
to her aid, and now, unlike her husband, she did 
not care a bit. For all that she answered nothing, 
partly because it was not necessary to speak in 
order to sustain a conversation with little Ann, 
and partly because she was deep in thought. 

The man was injured ! Hospitality, of course- 
especially since their own tenants had committed 
the outrage ! Still, to welcome a man who had 
gone out of his way to come down here and stump 
the country against her own son, was rather a 
tall order. It might have been worse, no doubt. 

59 



THE PATRICIAN 



If, for instance, he had been some "impossible' 
Nonconformist Radical ! This Mr. Courtier was 
a free lance rather a well-known man, an in- 
teresting creature. She must see that he felt "at 
home" and comfortable. If he were pumped 
judiciously, no doubt one could find out about 
this woman. Moreover, the acceptance of their 
'salt" would silence him politically, if she knew 
anything of that type of man, who always had 
something in him of the Arab's creed. Her mind, 
that of a capable administrator, took in all the 
practical significance of this incident, which, 
although untoward, was not without its comic 
side to one disposed to find zest and humour in 
everything which did not absolutely run counter 
to her interests and philosophy. 

The voice of little Ann broke in on her reflec- 
tions. 

'I'm going to Auntie Babs now." 
'Very well; give me a kiss first." 
Little Ann thrust up her face, so that its sud- 
den little nose penetrated Lady Valleys' soft 
curving lips. . . . 

When early that same afternoon Courtier, 
leaning on a stick, passed from his room out on 
to the terrace, he was confronted by three sunlit 
peacocks marching slowly across a lawn towards 

60 



THE PATRICIAN 

a statue of Diana. With incredible dignity those 
birds moved, as if never in their lives had they 
been hurried. They seemed indeed to know that 
when they got there, there would be nothing for 
them to do but to come back again. Beyond 
them, through the tall trees, over some wooded 
foot-hills of the moorland and a promised land of 
pinkish fields, pasture, and orchards, the pros- 
pect stretched to the far sea. Heat clothed this 
view with a kind of opalescence, a fairy garment, 
transmuting all values, so that the four square 
walls and tall chimneys of the pottery-works a 
few miles down the valley seemed to Courtier like 
a vision of some old fortified Italian town. His 
sensations, finding himself in this galley, were 
peculiar. For his feeling towards Miltoun, whom 
he had twice met at Mrs. Noel's, was, in spite of 
disagreements, by no means unfriendly, while his 
feeling towards Miltoun's family was not yet in 
existence. Having lived from hand to mouth, and 
in many countries, since he left Westminster 
School, he had now practically no class feelings. 
An attitude of hostility to aristocracy because 
it was aristocracy, was as incomprehensible to 
him as an attitude of deference. His sensations 
habitually shaped themselves in accordance with 
those two permanent requirements of his nature, 
liking for adventure, and hatred of tyranny. The 

61 



THE PATRICIAN 

labourer who beat his wife, the shopman who 
sweated his " hands," the parson who consigned 
his parishioners to hell, the peer who rode rough- 
shod all were equally odious to him. He thought 
of people as individuals, and it was, as it were, 
by accident that he had conceived the class gen- 
eralisation which he had fired back at Miltoun 
from Mrs. Noel's window. Sanguine, accustomed 
to queer environments, and always catching at 
the moment as it flew, he had not to fight with 
the timidities and irritations of a nervous tem- 
perament. His cheery courtesy was only dis- 
turbed when he became conscious of some senti- 
ment which appeared to him mean or cowardly. 
On such occasions, not perhaps infrequent, his 
face looked as if his heart were physically fuming, 
and since his shell of stoicism was never quite 
melted by this heat, a very peculiar expression 
was the result, a sort of calm, sardonic, desperate, 
jolly look. 

His chief feeling, then, at the outrage which 
had laid him captive in the enemy's camp, was 
one of vague amusement, and curiosity. People 
round about spoke fairly well of this Caradoc 
family. There did not seem to be any lack of 
kindly feeling between them and their tenants; 
there was said to be no griping destitution, nor 
any particular ill-housing on their estate. And if 

62 



THE PATRICIAN 

the inhabitants were not encouraged to improve 
themselves, they were at all events maintained 
at a certain level, by steady and not ungenerous 
supervision. When a roof required thatching it 
was thatched; when a man became too old to 
work, he was not suffered to lapse into the Work- 
house. In bad years for wool, or beasts, or crops, 
the farmers received a graduated remission of 
rent. The pottery-works were run on a liberal 
if autocratic basis. It was true that though Lord 
Valleys was said to be a staunch supporter of a 
'back to the land' policy, no disposition was 
shown to encourage people to settle on these par- 
ticular lands, no doubt from a feeling that such 
settlers would not do them so much justice as 
their present owner. Indeed so firmly did this con- 
viction seemingly obtain, that Lord Valleys' 
agent was not unfrequently observed to be buy- 
ing a little bit more. 

But, since in this life one notices only what in- 
terests him, all this gossip, half complimentary, 
half not, had fallen but lightly on the ears of the 
champion of Peace during his campaign, for he 
was, as has been said, but a poor politician, and 
rode his own horse very much his own way. 

While he stood there enjoying the view, he 
heard a small high voice, and became conscious 
of a little girl in a very shady hat so far back on 

63 



THE PATRICIAN 

her brown hair that it did not shade her; and of a 
small hand put out in front. He took the hand, 
and answered: 

'Thank you, I am well and you?' perceiv- 
ing the while that a pair of wide frank eyes were 
examining his leg. 

" Does it hurt ?" 

"Not to speak of." 

''My pony's leg was blistered. Granny is com- 
ing to look at it." 

"I see." 

*I have to go now. I hope you'll soon be bet- 
ter. Good-bye !' 

Then, instead of the little girl, Courtier saw a 
tall and rather florid woman regarding him with 
a sort of quizzical dignity. She wore a stiffish 
fawn-coloured dress which seemed to be cut a 
little too tight round her substantial hips, for it 
quite neglected to embrace her knees. She had on 
no hat, no gloves, no ornaments, except the rings 
on her fingers, and a little jewelled watch^in_a 
leather bracelet on her wrist. There was, indeed, 
about her whole figure an air of almost profes- 
sional escape from finery. 

Stretching out a well-shaped but not small 
hand, she said: 

'I most heartily apologise to you, Mr. Cour- 
tier." 

64 



THE PATRICIAN 



' Not at all." 

*I do hope you're comfortable. Have they 
given you everything you want?' 

'More than everything." 

' It really was disgraceful ! However it's 
brought us the pleasure of making your acquaint- 
ance. I've read your book, of course." 

To Courtier it seemed that on this lady's face 
had come a look which seemed to say : ' Yes, very 
clever and amusing, quite enjoyable ! But the 
ideas? What? You know very well they won't 
do in fact they mustn't do 1' 

'That's very nice of you." 

But into Lady Valleys' answer, "I don't agree 
with it a bit, you know !" there had crept a touch 
of asperity, as though she knew that he had 
smiled inside. "What we want preached in these 
days are the warlike virtues especially by a 



warrior.' 



'Believe me, Lady Valleys, the warlike virtues 
are best left to men of more virgin imagina- 
tion." 

He received a quick look, and the words: 
'Anyway, I'm sure you don't care a rap for 
politics. You know Mrs. Lees Noel, don't you? 
What a pretty woman she is !' 

But as she spoke Courtier saw a young girl 
coming along the terrace. She had evidently been 



THE PATRICIAN 

riding, for she wore high boots and a skirt which 
had enabled her to sit astride. Her eyes were blue, 
and her hair the colour of beech-leaves in au- 
tumn with the sun shining through was coiled 
up tight under a small soft hat. She was tall, and 
moved towards them like one endowed with 
great length from the hip joint to the knee. Joy 
of life, serene, unconscious vigour, seemed to ra- 
diate from her whole face and figure. 

At Lady Valleys' words: 

" Ah, Babs ! My daughter Barbara Mr. Cour- 
tier," he put out his hand, received within it 
some gauntleted fingers held out with a smile, 
and heard her say: 

"Miltoun's gone up to Town, Mother; I was 
going to motor in to Bucklandbury with a mes- 
sage he gave me; so I can fetch Granny out from 
the station.' 3 

"You had better take Ann, or she'll make our 
lives a burden; and perhaps Mr. Courtier would 
like an airing. Is your knee fit, do you think?' 

Glancing at the apparition, Courtier replied: 

(( T, 
It is. 

Never since the age of seven had he been able 
to look on feminine beauty without a sense of 
warmth and faint excitement; and seeing now 
perhaps the most beautiful girl he had ever be- 
held, he desired to be - with her wherever she 

66 



THE PATRICIAN 

might be going. There was too something very 
fascinating in the way she smiled, as if she had a 
little seen through his sentiments. 

"Well then," she said, "we'd better look for 
Ann." 

After short but vigorous search little Ann was 
found- -in the car, instinct having told her of a 
forward movement in which it was her duty to 
take part. And soon they had started, Ann be- 
tween them in that state of silence to which she 
became liable when really interested. 

From the Monkland estate, flowered, lawned, 
and timbered, to the open moor, was like passing 
to another world ; for no sooner was the last lodge 
of the Western drive left behind, than there came 
into sudden view the most pagan bit of landscape 
in all England. In this wild parliament-house, 
clouds, rocks, sun, and winds met and consulted. 
The "old" men, too, had left their spirits among 
the great stones, which lay couched like lions on 
the hill-tops, under the white clouds, and their 
brethren, the hunting buzzard hawks. Here the 
very rocks were restless, changing form, and 
sense, and colour from day to day, as though 
worshipping the unexpected, and refusing them- 
selves to law. The winds too in their passage re- 
volted against their courses, and came tearing 
down wherever there were combes or crannies, 



THE PATRICIAN 

so that men in their shelters might still learn the 
power of the wild gods. 

The wonders of this prospect were entirely lost 
on little Ann, and somewhat so on Courtier, 
deeply engaged in reconciling those two alien 
principles, courtesy, and the love of looking at a 
pretty face. He was wondering too what this girl 
of twenty, who had the self-possession of a 
woman of forty, might be thinking. It was little 
Ann who broke the silence. 

"Auntie Babs, it wasn't a very strong house, 
was it?' 

Courtier looked in the direction of her small 
finger. There was the wreck of a little house, 
which stood close to a stone man who had obvi- 
ously possessed that hill before there were men 
of flesh. Over one corner of the sorry ruin, a single 
patch of roof still clung, but the rest was open. 

4 He was a silly man to build it, wasn't he, 
Ann? That's why they call it Ashman's Folly.' 3 

"Is he alive?" 

"Not quite it's just a hundred years ago." 

"What made him build it here?" 

"He hated women, and the roof fell in on 
him." 

"Why did he hate women?' 

"He was a crank." 

"What is a crank?" 

68 



THE PATRICIAN 

"Ask Mr. Courtier." 

Under this girl's calm quizzical glance, Cour- 
tier endeavoured to find an answer to that ques- 
tion. 

"A crank," he said slowly, "is a man like 
me." 

He heard a little laugh, and became acutely 
conscious of Ann's dispassionate examining eyes. 

"Is Uncle Eustace a crank?' 

"You know now, Mr. Courtier, what Ann 
thinks of you. You think a good deal of Uncle 
Eustace, don't you, Ann?' 

"Yes," said Ann, and fixed her eyes before her. 
But Courtier gazed sideways over her hatless 
head. 

His exhilaration was increasing every moment. 
This girl reminded him of a two-year-old filly he 
had once seen, stepping out of Ascot paddock for 
her first race, with the sun glistening on her satin 
chestnut skin, her neck held high, her eyes all 
fire as sure to win, as that grass was green. It 
was difficult to believe her Miltoun's sister. It 
was difficult to believe any of those four young 
Caradocs related. The grave ascetic Miltoun, 
wrapped in the garment of his spirit; mild, 
domestic, strait-laced Agatha; Bertie, muffled, 
shrewd, and steely; and this frank, joyful con- 
quering Barbara the range was wide. 



THE PATRICIAN 

But the car had left the moor, and, down a 
steep hill, was passing the small villas and little 
grey workmen's houses outside the town of 
Bucklandbury. 

'Ann and I have to go on to Miltoun's head- 
quarters. Shall I drop you at the enemy's, Mr. 
Courtier? Stop, please, Frith." 

And before Courtier could assent, they had 
pulled up at a house on which was inscribed with 
extraordinary vigour: 'Chilcox for Buckland- 
bury." 

Hobbling into the Committee-room of Mr. 
Humphrey Chilcox, which smelled of paint, 
Courtier took with him the scented memory of 
youth, and ambergris, and Harris tweed. 

In that room three men were assembled round 
a table; the eldest of whom, endowed with lit- 
tle grey eyes, a stubbly beard, and that mys- 
terious something only found in those who have 
been mayors, rose at once and came towards 
him. 

'Mr. Courtier, I believe," he said bluffly. 
'Glad to see you, sir. Most distressed to hear of 
this outrage. Though in a way, it's done us good. 
Yes, really. Grossly against fair play. Shouldn't 
be surprised if it turned a couple of hundred 
votes. You carry the effects of it about with you, 
I see." 

70 



THE PATRICIAN 

A thin, refined man, with wiry hair, also came 
up, holding a newspaper in his hand. 

"It has had one rather embarrassing effect," 
he said. 'Read this: 

"' OUTRAGE ON A DISTINGUISHED VISITOR. 
"'LORD MILTOUN'S EVENING ADVENTURE/" 

Courtier read a paragraph. 

The man with the little eyes broke the ominous 
silence which ensued. 

"One of our side must have seen the whole 
thing, jumped on his bicycle and brought in the 
account before they went to press. They make no 
imputation on the lady simply state the facts. 
Quite enough," he added with impersonal grim- 
ness; 'I think he's done for himself, sir." 

The man with the refined face added ner- 
vously : 

"We couldn't help it, Mr. Courtier; I really 
don't know what we can do. I don't like it a bit." 

"Has your candidate seen this?' Courtier 
asked. 

"Can't have," struck in the third Committee- 
man; "we hadn't seen it ourselves until an hour 
ago." 

"I should never have permitted it," said the 
man with the refined face; 'I blame the editor 
greatly." 

71 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Come to that " said the little-eyed man, 

'it's a plain piece of news. If it makes a stir, 
that's not our fault. The paper imputes nothing, 
it states. Position of the lady happens to do the 
rest. Can't help it, and moreover, sir, speaking 
for self, don't want to. We'll have no loose morals 
in public life down here, please God !' There was 
real feeling in his words; then, catching sight of 
Courtier's face, he added: 'Do you know this 
lady?" 

'Ever since she was a child. Anyone who 
speaks evil of her, has to reckon with me." 

The man with the refined face said earnestly: 

'Believe me, Mr. Courtier, I entirely sym- 
pathise. We had nothing to do with the para- 
graph. It's one of those incidents where one bene- 
fits against one's will. Most unfortunate that she 
came out on to the green with Lord Miltoun; you 
know what people are." 

' It's the head-line that does it," said the third 
Committee-man; ''they've put what will attract 
the public." 

'I don't know, I don't know," said the little- 
eyed man stubbornly; 'if Lord Miltoun will 
spend his evenings with lonely ladies, he can't 
blame anybody but himself." 

Courtier looked from face to face. 

'This closes my connection with the cam- 

72 



THE PATRICIAN 

paign," he said: 'What's the address of this 
paper?" And without waiting for an answer, he 
took up the journal and hobbled from the room. 
He stood a minute outside finding the address, 
then made his way down the street. 



73 




CHAPTER VIII 

;Y the side of little Ann, Barbara 
sat leaning back amongst the 
cushions of the car. In spite of 
being already launched into high- 
caste life which brings with it an 
early knowledge of the world, she had still some 
of the eagerness in her face which makes children 
lovable. Yet she looked negligently enough at the 
citizens of Bucklandbury, being already a little 
conscious of the strange mixture of sentiment 
peculiar to her countrymen in presence of herself 
that curious expression on their faces result- 
ing from the continual attempt to look down 
their noses while slanting their eyes upwards. 
Yes, she was already alive to that mysterious 
glance which had built the national house and 
insured it afterwards foe to cynicism, pessi- 
mism, and anything French or Russian; parent 
of all the national virtues, and all the national 
vices of idealism and muddleheadedness, of in- 
dependence and servility; fosterer of conduct, 
murderer of speculation; looking up and looking 
down, but never straight at anything; most high, 

74 



THE PATRICIAN 

most deep, most queer; and ever bubbling-up 
from the essential Well of Emulation. 

Surrounded by that glance, waiting for Cour- 
tier, Barbara, not less British than her neigh- 
bours, was secretly slanting her own eyes up and 
down over the absent figure of her new acquaint- 
ance. She too wanted something she could look 
up to, and at the same time see damned first. 
And in this knight-errant it seemed to her that 
she had got it. 

He was a creature from another world. She had 
met many men, but not as yet one quite of this 
sort. It was rather nice to be with a clever man, 
who had none the less done so many outdoor 
things, been through so many bodily adventures. 
The mere writers, or even the * Bohemians," 
whom she occasionally met, were after all only 
'chaplains to the Court," necessary to keep aris- 
tocracy in touch with the latest development of 
literature and art. But this Mr. Courtier was a 
man of action; he could not be looked on with the 
amused, admiring toleration suited to men re- 
markable only for ideas, and the way they put 
them into paint or ink. He had used, and could 
use, the sword, even in the cause of Peace. He 
could love, had loved, or so they said. If Barbara 
had been a girl of twenty in another class, she 
would probably never have heard of this, and if 

75 



THE PATRICIAN 

she had heard, it might very well have dismayed 
or shocked her. But she had heard, and without 
shock, because she had already learned that men 
were like that, and women too sometimes. 

It was with quite a little pang of concern that 
she saw him hobbling down the street towards 
her; and when he was once more seated, she told 
the chauffeur: 'To the station, Frith. Quick, 
please!' and began, 

'You are not to be trusted a bit. What were 
you doing?' 

But Courtier smiled grimly over the head of 
Ann, in silence. 

At this, almost the first time she had ever yet 
encountered a distinct rebuff, Barbara quivered, 
as though she had been touched lightly with a 
whip. Her lips closed firmly, her eyes began to 
dance. 'Very well, my dear,' she thought. But 
presently stealing a look at him, she became 
aware of such a queer expression on his face, that 
she forgot she was offended. 

'Is anything wrong, Mr. Courtier?' 
'Yes, Lady Barbara, something is very wrong 
that miserable mean thing, the human tongue." 

Barbara had an intuitive knowledge of how to 
handle things, a kind of moral sangfroid, drawn 
in from the faces she had watched, the talk she 
had heard, from her youth up. She trusted those 



THE PATRICIAN 

intuitions, and letting her eyes conspire with his 
over Ann's brown hair, she said: 

"Anything to do with Mrs. N ?" Seeing 

'Yes' in his eyes, she added quickly: 'And 
M ?" 

Courtier nodded. 

6 1 thought that was coming. Let them babble ! 
Who cares?' 

She caught an approving glance, and the word, 
"Good!" 

But the car had drawn up at Bucklandbury 
Station. 

The little grey figure of Lady Casterley, com- 
ing out of the station doorway, showed but slight 
sign of her long travel. She stopped to take the 
car in, from chauffeur to Courtier. 

"Well, Frith! Mr. Courtier, is it? I know 
your book, and I don't approve of you; you're a 
dangerous man How do you do? I must have 
those two bags. The cart can bring the rest. . . . 
Randle, get up in front, and don't get dusty. 
Ann!' But Ann was already beside the chauf- 
feur, having long planned this improvement. 
'H'm ! So you've hurt your leg, sir? Keep still ! 
We can sit three. . . . Now, my dear, I can kiss 
you ! You've grown !' 

Lady Casterley's kiss, once received, was never 
forgotten; neither perhaps was Barbara's. Yet 

77 



THE PATRICIAN 

they were different. For, in the case of Lady Cas- 
terley, the old eyes, bright and investigating, 
could be seen deciding the exact spot for the lips 
to touch; then the face with its firm chin was 
darted forward; the lips paused a second, as 
though to make quite certain, then suddenly dug 
hard and dry into the middle of the cheek, qua- 
vered for the fraction of a second as if trying to 
remember to be soft, and were relaxed like the 
elastic of a catapult. And in the case of Barbara, 
first a sort of light came into her eyes, then her 
chin tilted a little, then her lips pouted a little, 
her body quivered, as if it were getting a size 
larger, her hair breathed, there was a small sweet 
sound; it was over. 

Thus kissing her grandmother, Barbara re- 
sumed her seat, and looked at Courtier. "Sitting 
three >! as they were, he was touching her, and 
it seemed to her somehow that he did not 
mind. 

The wind had risen, blowing from the West, 
and sunshine was flying on it. The call of the 
cuckoos a little sharpened followed the swift- 
travelling car. And that essential sweetness of the 
moor, born of the heather roots and the South- 
West wind, was stealing out from under the 
young ferns. 

With her thin nostrils distended to this scent, 

78 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Casterley bore a distinct resemblance to a 
small, fine game-bird. 

c You smell nice down here," she said. "Now, 
Mr. Courtier, before I forget who is this Mrs. 
Lees Noel that I hear so much of?' 

At that question, Barbara could not help slid- 
ing her eyes round. How would he stand up to 
Granny? It was the moment to see what he was 
made of. Granny was terrific ! 

'A very charming woman, Lady Casterley." 

'No doubt; but I am tired of hearing that. 
What is her story?' 

"Has she one?" 

'Ha!" said Lady Casterley. 

Ever so slightly Barbara let her arm press 
against Courtier's. It was so delicious to hear 
Granny getting no forwarder. 

'I may take it she has a past, then?' 

'Not from me, Lady Casterley." 

Again Barbara gave him that imperceptible 
and flattering touch. 

'Well, this is all very mysterious. I shall find 
out for myself. You know her, my dear. You 
must take me to see her." 

'Dear Granny! If people hadn't pasts, they 
wouldn't have futures." 

Lady Casterley let her little claw-like hand de- 
scend on her granddaughter's thigh. 

79 



THE PATRICIAN 



"Don't talk nonsense, and don't stretch like 
that !" she said; "you're too large already. . . ." 

At dinner that night they were all in possession 
of the news. Sir William had been informed by 
the local agent at Staverton, where Lord Harbin- 
ger's speech had suffered from some rude inter- 
ruptions. The Hon. Geoffrey Winlow, having sent 
his wife on, had flown over in his biplane from 
Winkleigh, and brought a copy of 'the rag" 
with him. The one member of the small house- 
party who had not heard the report before din- 
ner was Lord Dennis Fitz-Harold, Lady Caster- 
ley's brother. 

Little, of course, was said. But after the ladies 
had withdrawn, Harbinger, with that plain- 
spoken spontaneity which was so unexpected, 
perhaps a little intentionally so, in connection 
with his almost classically formed face, uttered 
words to the effect that, if they did not funda- 
mentally kick that rumour, it was all up with 
Miltoun. Really this was serious ! And the beg- 
gars knew it, and they were going to work it. 
And Miltoun had gone up to Town, no one knew 
what for. It was the devil of a mess ! 

In all the conversation of this young man there 
was that peculiar brand of voice which seems ever 
rebutting an accusation of being serious a brand 
of voice and manner warranted against anything 
save ridicule; and in the face of ridicule apt to 

80 



THE PATRICIAN 

disappear. The words, just a little satirically 
spoken: 'What is, my dear young man?' 
stopped him at once. 

Looking for the complement and counterpart 
of Lady Casterley, one would perhaps have 
singled out her brother. All her abrupt decision 
was negated in his profound, ironical urbanity. 
His voice and look and manner were like his 
velvet coat, which had here and there a whitish 
sheen, as if it had been touched by moonlight. 
His hair too had that sheen. His very delicate 
features were framed in a white beard and mous- 
tache of Elizabethan shape. His eyes, hazel and 
still clear, looked out very straight, with a cer- 
tain dry kindliness. His face, though unweathered 
and unseamed, and much too fine and thin in 
texture, had a curious affinity to the faces of old 
sailors or fishermen who have lived a simple, 
practical life in the light of an overmastering tra- 
dition. It was the face of a man with a very set 
creed, and inclined to be satiric towards inno- 
vations, examined by him and rejected full fifty 
years ago. One felt that a brain not devoid either 
of subtlety or aesthetic quality had long given up 
all attempts to interfere with conduct; that all 
shrewdness of speculation had given place to 
shrewdness of practical judgment based on very 
definite experience. Owing to lack of advertising 
power, natural to one so conscious of his dignity 

81 



THE PATRICIAN 

as to have lost all care for it, and to his devotion 
to a certain lady, only closed by death, his life 
had been lived, as it were, in shadow. Still, he 
possessed a peculiar influence in Society, because 
it was known to be impossible to get him to look 
at things in a complicated way. He was regarded 
rather as a last resort, however. 'Bad as that? 
Well, there's old Fitz-Harold ! Try him ! He won't 
advise you, but he'll say something." 

And in the heart of that irreverent young man, 
Harbinger, there stirred a sort of misgiving. Had 
he expressed himself too freely ? Had he said any- 
thing too thick? He had forgotten the old boy! 
Stirring Bertie up with his foot, he murmured: 
' Forgot you didn't know, sir. Bertie will explain." 

Thus called on, Bertie, opening his lips a very 
little way, and fixing his half-closed eyes on his 
great-uncle, explained. There was a lady at the 
cottage a nice woman Mr. Courtier knew her 
old Miltoun went there sometimes rather 
late the other evening these devils were making 
the most of it suggesting lose him the election, 
if they didn't look out. Perfect rot, of course ! 

In his opinion, old Miltoun, though as steady 
as Time, had been a flat to let the woman come 
out with him on to the Green, showing clearly 
where he had been, when he ran to Courtier's 
rescue. You couldn't play about with women who 

82 



THE PATRICIAN 

had no form that anyone knew anything of, how- 
ever promising they might look. 

Then, out of a silence Winlow asked : What was 
to be done? Should Miltoun be wired for? A 
thing like this spread like wildfire ! Sir William 
a man not accustomed to underrate difficulties 
was afraid it was going to be troublesome. Har- 
binger expressed the opinion that the editor 
ought to be kicked. Did anybody know what 
Courtier had done when he heard of it? Where 
was he dining in his room? Bertie suggested 
that if Miltoun was at Valleys House, it mightn't 
be too late to wire to him. The thing ought to be 
stemmed at once ! And in all this concern about 
the situation there kept cropping out quaint little 
outbursts of desire to disregard the whole thing 
as infernal insolence, and metaphorically to 
punch the beggars' heads, natural to young men 
of breeding. 

Then, out of another silence came the voice of 
Lord Dennis: 

'I am thinking of this poor lady." 

Turning a little abruptly towards that dry 
suave voice, and recovering the self-possession 
which seldom deserted him, Harbinger mur- 
mured : 

"Quite so, sir; of course!" 




CHAPTER IX 

N the lesser withdrawing room, 
used when there was so small a 
party, Mrs. Winlow had gone to 
the piano and was playing to her- 
self, for Lady Casterley, Lady 
Valleys, and her two daughters had drawn to- 
gether as though united to face this invading 
rumour. 

It was curious testimony to Miltoun's char- 
acter that, no more here than in the dining-hall, 
was there any doubt of the integrity of his rela- 
tions with Mrs. Noel. But whereas, there the mat- 
ter was confined to its electioneering aspect, here 
that aspect was already perceived to be only the 
fringe of its importance. Those feminine minds, 
going with intuitive swiftness to the core of any- 
thing which affected their own males, had already 
grasped the fact that the rumour would, as it 
were, chain a man of Miltoun's temper to this 
woman. 

But they were w r alking on such a thin crust of 
facts, and there was so deep a quagmire of sup- 
position beneath, that talk was almost painfully 

84 



THE PATRICIAN 

difficult. Never before perhaps had each of these 
four women realised so clearly how much Mil- 
toun that rather strange and unknown grand- 
son, son, and brother counted in the scheme of 
existence. Their suppressed agitation was mani- 
fested in very different ways. Lady Casterley, 
upright in her chair, showed it only by an added 
decision of speech, a continual restless movement 
of one hand, a thin line between her usually 
smooth brows. Lady Valleys wore a puzzled look, 
as if a little surprised that she felt serious. 
Agatha looked frankly anxious. She was in her 
quiet way a woman of much character, endowed 
with that natural piety, which accepts without 
questioning the established order in life and re- 
ligion. The world to her being home and family, 
she had a real, if gently expressed, horror of all 
that she instinctively felt to be subversive of this 
ideal. People judged her a little quiet, dull, and 
narrow; they compared her to a hen for ever 
clucking round her chicks. The streak of heroism 
in her nature was not perhaps patent. Her feeling 
about her brother's situation however was sincere 
and not to be changed or comforted. She saw him 
in danger of being damaged in the only sense in 
which she could conceive of a man as a husband 
and a father. This went to her heart, though her 
piety proclaimed to her also the peril of his soul; 



THE PATRICIAN 

for she shared the High Church view of the indis- 
solubility of marriage. 

As to Barbara, she stood by the hearth, leaning 
her white shoulders against the carved marble, 
her hands behind her, looking down. Now and 
then her lips curled, her level brows twitched, a 
faint sigh came from her; then a little smile would 
break out, and be instantly suppressed. She alone 
was silent Youth criticising Life; her judgment 
voiced itself only in the untroubled rise and fall 
of her young bosom, the impatience of her brows, 
the downward look of her blue eyes, full of a lazy, 
inextinguishable light. 
Lady Valleys sighed. 

' If only he weren't such a queer boy ! He's 
quite capable of marrying her from sheer per- 
versity." 

'What!' said Lady Casterley. 

'You haven't seen her, my dear. A most un- 
fortunately attractive creature quite a charm- 
ing face." 

Agatha said quietly: 

'Mother, if she was divorced, I don't think 
Eustace would." 

'There's that, certainly," murmured Lady 
Valleys; 'hope for the best!' 

'Don't you even know which way it was?' 
said Lady Casterley. 

86 



THE PATRICIAN 

"Well, the vicar says she did the divorcing. 
But he's very charitable; it may be as Agatha 
hopes." 

" I detest vagueness. Why doesn't someone ask 
the woman?' 

"You shall come with me, Granny dear, and 
ask her yourself; you will do it so nicely." 

Lady Casterley looked up. 

"We shall see," she said. Something struggled 
with the autocratic criticism in her eyes. No 
more than the rest of the world could she help 
indulging Barbara. As one who believed in the 
divinity of her order, she liked this splendid child. 
She even admired though admiration was not 
what she excelled in that warm joy in life, as of 
some great nymph, parting the waves with bare 
limbs, tossing from her the foam of breakers. She 
felt that in this granddaughter, rather than in the 
good Agatha, the patrician spirit was housed. 
There were points to Agatha, earnestness and 
high principle; but something morally narrow 
and over-Anglican slightly offended the prac- 
tical and worldly temper of Lady Casterley. It 
was a weakness, and she disliked weakness. Bar- 
bara would never be squeamish over moral ques- 
tions or matters such as were not really essential 
to aristocracy. She might, indeed, err too much 
the other way from sheer high spirits. As the im- 



THE PATRICIAN 

pudent child had said: "If people had no pasts, 
they would have no futures." And Lady Caster- 
ley could not bear people without futures. She 
was ambitious; not with the low ambition of one 
who had risen from nothing, but with the high 
passion of one on the top, who meant to stay 
there. 

'And where have you been meeting this er 
anonymous creature?' she asked. 

Barbara came from the hearth, and bending 
down beside Lady Casterley's chair, seemed to 
envelop her completely. 

'I'm all right, Granny; she couldn't corrupt 
me." 

Lady Casterley's face peered out doubtfully 
from that warmth, wearing a look of disapprov- 
ing pleasure. 

' I know your wiles !" she said. "Come, now !' 
'I see her about. She's nice to look at. We 
talk." 

Again with that hurried quietness Agatha said : 
'My dear Babs, I do think you ought to wait." 
'My dear Angel, why? What is it to me if she's 
had four husbands?' 

Agatha bit her lips, and Lady Valleys mur- 
mured with a laugh: 

'You really are a terror, Babs." 
But the sound of Mrs. Winlow's music had 

88 



THE PATRICIAN 

ceased the men had come in. And the faces of 
the four women hardened, as if they had slipped 
on masks; for though this was almost or quite a 
family party, theJWinlows being second cousins, 
still the subject was one which each of these four 
in their very different ways felt to be beyond 
general discussion. Talk, now, began glancing 
from the war scare- -Winlow had it very specially 
that this would be over in a week to Brabrook's 
speech, in progress at that very moment, of which 
Harbinger provided an imitation. It sped to 
Winlow's flight to Andrew Grant's articles in 
the Parthenon to the caricature of Harbinger 
in the Cackler, inscribed 'The New Tory. L-rd 
H-rb-ng-r brings Social Reform beneath the no- 
tice of his friends," which depicted him intro- 
ducing a naked baby to a number of coroneted 
old ladies. Thence to a dancer. Thence to the Bill 
for Universal Assurance. Then back to the war 
scare; to the last book of a great French writer; 
and once more to Winlow's flight. It was all 
straightforward and outspoken, each seeming to 
say exactly what came into the head. For all that, 
there was a curious avoidance of the spiritual 
significances of these things ; or was it perhaps 
that such significances were not seen? 

Lord Dennis, at the far end of the room, study- 
ing a portfolio of engravings, felt a touch on his 



THE PATRICIAN 

cheek; and conscious of a certain fragrance, said 
without turning his head: 
'Nice things, these, BabsP 
Receiving no answer he looked up. 
There indeed stood Barbara. 
' I do hate sneering behind people's backs !" 
There had always been good comradeship be- 
tween these two, since the days when Barbara, 
a golden-haired child, astride of a grey pony, had 
been his morning companion in the Row all 
through the season. His riding days were past; 
he had now no outdoor pursuit save fishing, 
which he followed with the ironic persistence of 
a self-contained, high-spirited nature, which re- 
fuses to admit that the mysterious finger of old 
age is laid across it. But though she was no longer 
his companion, he still had a habit of expecting 
her confidences; and he looked after her, moving 
away from him to a window, with surprised con- 
cern. 

It was one of those nights, dark yet gleaming, 
when there seems a flying malice in the heavens; 
when the stars, from under and above the black 
clouds, are like eyes frowning and flashing down 
at men with purposed malevolence. The great 
sighing trees even had caught this spirit, save 
one, a dark, spire-like cypress, planted three hun- 
dred and fifty years before, whose tall form in- 

90 



THE PATRICIAN 

carnated the very spirit of tradition, and neither 
swayed nor soughed like the others. From her, 
too close-fibred, too resisting, to admit the breath 
of Nature, only a dry rustle came. Still almost 
exotic, in spite of her centuries of sojourn, and 
now brought to life by the eyes of night, she 
seemed almost terrifying, in her narrow, spear- 
like austerity, as though something had dried and 
died within her soul. Barbara came back from the 
window. 

"We can't do anything in our lives, it seems 
to me," she said, "but play at taking risks V 

Lord Dennis replied dryly: 

"I don't think I understand, my dear." 

' Look at Mr. Courtier ! ' muttered Barbara. 
"His life's so much more risky altogether than any 
of our men folk lead. And yet they sneer at him." 

* Let's see, what has he done?' 

"Oh! I dare say not very much; but it's all 
neck or nothing. But what does anything matter 
to Harbinger, for instance? If his Social Reform 
comes to nothing, he'll still be Harbinger, with 
fifty thousand a year." 

Lord Dennis looked up a little queerly. 

"What ! Is it possible you don't take the young 
man seriously, Babs?' 

Barbara shrugged; a strap slipped a little off 
one white shoulder. 

9 1 



THE PATRICIAN 

' It's all play really ; and he knows it you can 
tell that from his voice. He can't help its not 
mattering, of course; and he knows that too." 

' I have heard that he's after you, Babs; is that 
true?" 

'He hasn't caught me yet." 

"Will he?" 

Barbara's answer was another shrug; and, for 
all their statuesque beauty, the movement of her 
shoulders was like the shrug of a little girl in her 
pinafore. 

: 'And this Mr. Courtier," said Lord Dennis 
dryly: 'Are you after him?' 

'I'm after everything; didn't you know that, 
dear?" 

'In reason, my child." 

'In reason, of course like poor Eusfy !" She 
stopped. Harbinger himself was standing there 
close by, with an air as nearly approaching rever- 
ence as was ever to be seen on him. In truth, the 
way in which he was looking at her was almost 
timorous. 

'Will you sing that song I like so much, Lady 
Babs?" 

They moved away together; and Lord Dennis, 
gazing after that magnificent young couple, 
stroked his beard gravely. 



92 




CHAPTER X 

ILTOUN'S sudden journey to 
London had been undertaken in 
pursuance of a resolve slowly 
forming from the moment he met 
Mrs. Noel in the stone-flagged 
passage of Burracombe Farm. If she would have 
him and since last evening he believed she 
would he intended to marry her. 

It has been said that except for one lapse his 
life had been austere, but this is not to assert 
that he had no capacity for passion. The con- 
trary was the case. That flame which had been 
so jealously guarded smouldered deep within him 
a smothered fire with but little air to feed on. 
The moment his spirit was touched by the spirit 
of this woman, it had flared up. She was the in- 
carnation of all that he desired. Her hair, her 
eyes, her form; the tiny tuck or dimple at the 
corner of her mouth just where a child places its 
finger; her way of moving, a sort of unconscious 
swaying or yielding to the air; the tone in her 
voice, which seemed to come not so much from 
happiness of her own as from an innate wish to 
make others happy; and that natural, if not 

93 



THE PATRICIAN 

robust, intelligence, which belongs to the very 
sympathetic, and is rarely found in women of 
great ambitions or enthusiasms all these things 
had twined themselves round his heart. He not 
only dreamed of her, and wanted her; he believed 
in her. She filled his thoughts as one who could 
never do wrong; as one who, though a wife, 
would remain a mistress, and, though a mistress, 
would always be the companion of his spirit. 

It has been said that no one spoke or gossipped 
about women in Miltoun's presence, and the tale 
of her divorce was present to his mind simply in 
the form of a conviction that she was an injured 
woman. After his interview with the vicar, he had 
only once again alluded to it, and that in answer 
to the speech of a lady staying at the Court: 
'Oh! yes, I remember her case perfectly. She 

was the poor woman who ' 'Did not, I am 

certain, Lady Bonington." The tone of his voice 
had made someone laugh uneasily; the subject 
was changed. 

All divorce was against his convictions, but in 
a blurred way he admitted that there were cases 
where release was unavoidable. He was not a 
man to ask for confidences, or expect them to be 
given him. He himself had never confided his 
spiritual struggles to any living creature; and the 
unspiritual struggle had little interest for Mil- 

94 



THE PATRICIAN 

toun. He was ready at any moment to stake his 
life on the perfection of the idol he had set up 
within his soul, as simply and straightforwardly 
as he would have placed his body in front of her 
to shield her from harm. 

The same fanaticism, which looked on his pas- 
sion as a flower by itself, entirely apart from its 
suitability to the social garden, was also the driv- 
ing force which sent him up to London to declare 
his intention to his father before he spoke to Mrs. 
Noel. The thing should be done simply, and in 
right order. For he had the kind of moral courage 
found in those who live retired within the shell 
of their own aspirations. Yet it was not perhaps 
so much active moral courage as indifference to 
what others thought or did, coming from his in- 
bred resistance to the appreciation of what they 
felt. 

That peculiar smile of the old Tudor Cardinal 
which had in it invincible self-reliance, and a 
sort of spiritual sneer played over his face when 
he speculated on his father's reception of the 
coming news; and very soon he ceased to think 
of it at all, burying himself in the work he had 
brought with hirn for the journey. For he had in 
high degree the faculty, so essential to public life, 
of switching off his whole attention from one 
subject to another. 

95 



THE PATRICIAN 

On arriving at Paddington he drove straight 
to Valleys House. 

This large dwelling with its pillared portico, 
seemed to wear an air of faint surprise that, at the 
height of the season, it was not more inhabited. 
Three servants relieved Miltoun of his little lug- 
gage; and, having washed, and learned that his 
father would be dining in, he went for a walk, 
taking his way towards his rooms in the Temple. 
His long figure, somewhat carelessly garbed, at- 
tracted the usual attention, of which he was as 
usual unaware. Strolling along, he meditated 
deeply on a London, an England, different from 
this flatulent hurly-burly, this omnium gath- 
erum, this great discordant symphony of sharps 
and flats. A London, an England, kempt and self- 
respecting; swept and garnished of slums, and 
plutocrats, advertisement, and jerry-building, 
of sensationalism, vulgarity, vice, and unemploy- 
ment. An England where each man should know 
his place, and never change it, but serve in it 
loyally in his own caste. Where every man, from 
nobleman to labourer, should be an oligarch by 
faith, and a gentleman by practice. An England 
so steel-bright and efficient that the very sight 
should suffice to impose peace. An England 
whose soul should be stoical and fine with the 
stoicism and fineness of each soul amongst her 



THE PATRICIAN 

many million souls; where the town should have 
its creed and the country its creed, and there 
should be contentment and no complaining in her 
streets. 

And as he walked down the Strand, a little 
ragged boy cheeped out between his legs: 

'Bloodee disco veree in a Bank Grite sensy- 
tion! Pi erl" 

Miltoun paid no heed to that saying; yet, with 
it, the wind blowing where man lives, the care- 
less, wonderful, unordered wind, had dispersed 
his austere and formal vision. Great was that 
wind the myriad aspiration of men and women, 
the praying of the uncounted multitude to the 
goddess of Sensation of Chance, and Change. 
A flowing from heart to heart, from lip to lip, as 
in Spring the wistful air wanders through a wood, 
imparting to every bush and tree the secrets of 
fresh life, the passionate resolve to grow, and 
become no matter what ! A sighing, as eternal 
as the old murmuring of the sea, as little to 
be hushed, as prone to swell into sudden roar- 
ing ! 

Miltoun held on through the traffic, not look- 
ing overmuch at the present forms of the thou- 
sands he passed, but seeing with the eyes of 
faith the forms he desired to see. Near St. Paul's 
he stopped in front of an old book-shop. His 

97 



THE PATRICIAN 

grave, pallid, not unhandsome face, was well- 
known to William Rimall, its small proprietor, 
who at once brought out his latest acquisition 
a More's 'Utopia.' 3 That particular edition (he 
assured Miltoun) was quite unprocurable he 
had never sold but one other copy, which had 
been literally crumbling away. This copy was in 
even better condition. It could hardly last an- 
other twenty years a genuine book, a bargain. 
There wasn't so much movement in More as 
there had been a little time back. 

Miltoun opened the tome, and a small book- 
louse who had been sleeping on the word "Trani- 
bore," began to make its way slowly towards the 
very centre of the volume. 

'I see it's genuine,"' said Miltoun. 

'It's not to read, my lord," the little man 
warned him: "Hardly safe to turn the pages. As 
I was saying I've not had a better piece this 
year. I haven't really!' 

'Shrewd old dreamer," muttered Miltoun; 
'the Socialists haven't got beyond him, even 
now." 

The little man's eyes blinked, as though apo- 
logising for the views of Thomas More. 

'Well," he said, 'I suppose he was one of 
them. I forget if your lordship's very strong on 
politics?' 



THE PATRICIAN 

Miltoun smiled. 

' I want to see an England, Rimall, something 
like the England of More's dream. But my ma- 
chinery will be different. I shall begin at the top." 

The little man nodded. 

'Quite so, quite so," he said; "we shall come 
to that, I dare say." 

"We must, Rimall." And Miltoun turned the 
page. 

The little man's face quivered. 
'I don't think,' 3 he said, 'that book's quite 
strong enough for you, my lord, with your taste 
for reading. Now I've a most curious old volume 
here on Chinese temples. It's rare but not too 
old. You can peruse it thoroughly. It's what I 
call a book to browse on just suit your palate. 
Funny principle they built those things on," he 
added, opening the volume at an engraving, "in 
layers. We don't build like that in England." 

Miltoun looked up sharply; the little man's 
face wore no signs of understanding. 

'Unfortunately we don't, Rimall," he said; 
'we ought to, and we shall. I'll take this book." 

Placing his finger on the print of the pagoda, 
he added: 'A good symbol." 

The little bookseller's eyes strayed down the 
temple to the secret price mark. 

'Exactly, my lord," he said; 'I thought it'd 

99 



THE PATRICIAN 

be your fancy. The price to you will be twenty- 
seven and six." 

Miltoun, pocketing the bargain, walked out. 
He made his way into the Temple, left the book 
at his Chambers, and passed on down to the 
bank of Mother Thames. The Sun was loving her 
passionately that afternoon; he had kissed her 
into warmth and light and colour. And all the 
buildings along her banks, as far as the towers 
at Westminster, seemed to be smiling. It was a 
great sight for the eyes of a lover. And another 
vision came haunting Miltoun, of a soft-eyed 
woman with a low voice, bending amongst her 
flowers. Nothing would be complete without her; 
no work bear fruit; no scheme could have full 
meaning. 

Lord Valleys greeted his son at dinner with 
good-fellowship and a faint surprise. 

'Day off, my dear fellow? Or have you come 
up to hear Brabrook pitch into us? He's rather 
late this time we've got rid of that balloon busi- 
ness no trouble after all.' 5 

And he eyed Miltoun with that clear grey stare 
of his, so cool, level, and curious. 'Now, what 
sort of bird is this?' it seemed saying. ' Certainly 
not the partridge I should have expected from 
its breeding ! ' 

Miltoun's answer : " I came up to tell you some- 

100 



THE PATRICIAN 

thing, sir," riveted his father's stare for a second 
longer than was quite urbane. 

It would not be true to say that Lord Valleys 
was afraid of his son. Fear was not one of his 
emotions, but he certainly regarded him with a 
respectful curiosity bordering on uneasiness. The 
oligarchic temper of Miltoun's mind and political 
convictions almost shocked one who knew both 
by temperament and experience how to wait in 
front. This instruction he had frequently had 
occasion to give his jockeys when he believed his 
horses could best get home first in that way. And 
it was an instruction he now longed to give his 
son. He himself had "waited in front" for over 
fifty years, and he knew it to be the finest way of 
insuring that he would never be compelled to 
alter this desirable policy for something in 
Lord Valleys' character made him fear, that, in 
real emergency, he would exert himself to the 
point of the gravest discomfort sooner than be 
left to wait behind. A fellow like young Harbin- 
ger, of course, he understood versatile, 'full of 
beans,' as he expressed it to himself in his more 
confidential moments, who had imbibed the new 
wine (very intoxicating it was) of desire for social 
reform. He would have to be given his head a 
little but there would be no difficulty with him, 
he would never "run out' : -light handy build of 

101 



THE PATRICIAN 

horse that only required steadying at the cor- 
ners. He would want to hear himself talk, and be 
let feel that he was doing something. All very 
well, and quite intelligible. But with Miltoun 
(and Lord Valleys felt this to be no mere paternal 
fancy) it was a very different business. His son 
had a way of forcing things to their conclusions 
which was dangerous, and reminded him of his 
mother-in-law. He was a baby in public affairs, 
of course, as yet; but as soon as he once got going, 
the intensity of his convictions, together with his 
position, and real gift not of the gab, like Har- 
binger's but of restrained, biting oratory, \vas 
sure to bring him to the front with a bound in the 
present state of parties. And what were those 
convictions? Lord Valleys had tried to under- 
stand them, but up to the present he had failed. 
And this did not surprise him exactly, since, as he 
often said, political convictions were not, as they 
appeared on the surface, the outcome of reason, 
but merely symptoms of temperament. And he 
could not comprehend, because he could not 
sympathise with, any attitude towards public af- 
fairs which was not essentially level, attached to 
the plain, common-sense factors of the case as 
they appeared to himself. Not that he could 
fairly be called a temporiser, for deep down in 
him there was undoubtedly a vein of obstinate, 

102 



THE PATRICIAN 

fundamental loyalty to the traditions of a caste 
which prized high spirit beyond all things. Still 
he did feel that Miltoun was altogether too much 
the ' pukka ' : aristocrat no better than a So- 
cialist, with his confounded way of seeing things 
all cut and dried; his ideas of forcing reforms 
down people's throats and holding them there 
with the iron hand ! With his way too of acting 
on his principles ! Why ! He even admitted that 
he acted on his principles ! This thought always 
struck a very discordant note in Lord Valleys' 
breast. It was almost indecent; worse ridiculous! 
The fact was, the dear fellow had unfortunately 
a deeper habit of thought than was wanted in 
politics dangerous very ! Experience might do 
something for him ! And out of his own long ex- 
perience the Earl of Valleys tried hard to recollect 
any politician whom the practice of politics had 
left where he was when he started. He could not 
think of one. But this gave him little comfort; 
and, above a piece of late asparagus, his steady 
eyes sought his son's. What had he come up to 
tell him? 

The phrase had been ominous; he could not 
recollect Miltoun's ever having told him any- 
thing. For though a really kind and indulgent 
father, he had like so many men occupied with 
public and other lives a little acquired towards 

103 



THE PATRICIAN 

his offspring the look and manner: Is this mine? 
Of his four children, Barbara alone he claimed 
with conviction. He admired her; and, being a 
man who savoured life, he was unable to love 
much except where he admired. But, the last 
person in the world to hustle any man or force 
a confidence, he waited to hear his son's news, 
betraying no uneasiness. 

Miltoun seemed in no hurry. He described 
Courtier's adventure, which tickled Lord Valleys 
a good deal. 

:< Ordeal by red pepper! Shouldn't have 
thought them equal to that," he said. 'So 
you've got him at Monkland now. Harbinger 
still with you?' 

'Yes. I don't think Harbinger has much 
stamina." 

"Politically?" 

Miltoun nodded. 

' I rather resent his being on our side I don't 
think he does us any good. You've seen that car- 
toon, I suppose; it cuts pretty deep. I couldn't 
recognise you amongst the old women, sir." 

Lord Valleys smiled impersonally. 

'Very clever thing. By the way, I shall win 
the Eclipse, I think." 

And thus, spasmodically, the conversation ran 
till the last servant had left the room. 

104 



THE PATRICIAN 

Then Miltoun, without preparation, looked 
straight at his father and said: 

"I want to marry Mrs. Noel, sir." 

Lord Valleys received the shot with exactly the 
same expression as that with which he was accus- 
tomed to watch his horses beaten. Then he raised 
his wineglass to his lips; and set it down again 
untouched. This was the only sign he gave of in- 
terest or discomfiture. 

'Isn't this rather sudden?' 

Miltoun answered: "I've wanted to from the 
moment I first saw her." 

Lord Valleys, almost as good a judge of a man 
and a situation as of a horse or a pointer dog, 
leaned back in his chair, and said with faint 
sarcasm : 

"My dear fellow, it's good of you to have told 
me this; though, to be quite frank, it's a piece of 
news I would rather not have heard." 

A dusky flush burned slowly up in Miltoun's 
cheeks. He had underrated his father; the man 
had coolness and courage in a crisis. 

"What is your objection, sir?" And suddenly 
he noticed that a wafer in Lord Valleys' hand was 
quivering. This brought into his eyes no look of 
compunction, but such a smouldering gaze as the 
old Tudor Churchman might have bent on an 
adversary who showed a sign of weakness. Lord 

105 



THE PATRICIAN 

Valleys, too, noticed the quivering of that wafer, 
and ate it. 

'We are men of the world," he said. 

Miltoun answered: 'I am not." 

Showing his first real symptom of impatience 
Lord Valleys rapped out: 

"So be it! I am." 

"Yes?" said Miltoun. 

"Eustace!" 

Nursing one knee, Miltoun faced that appeal 
without the faintest movement. His eyes con- 
tinued to burn into his father's face. A tremor 
passed over Lord Valleys' heart. What inten- 
sity of feeling there was in the fellow, that he 
could look like this at the first breath of opposi- 
tion ! 

He reached out and took up the cigar-box; 
held it absently towards his son, and drew it 
quickly back. 

'I forgot," he said; :< you don't." 

And lighting a cigar, he smoked gravely, look- 
ing straight before him, a furrow between his 
brows. He spoke at last: 

'She looks like a lady. I know nothing else 
about her." 

The smile deepened round Miltoun's mouth. 
'Why should you want to know anything 
else?" 

1 06 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lord Valleys shrugged. His philosophy had 
hardened. 

"I understand for one thing/ 5 he said coldly, 
"that there is a matter of a divorce. I thought 
you took the Church's view on that subject." 
'She has not done wrong." 

"You know her story, then?' 

"No." 

Lord Valleys raised his brows, in irony and a 
sort of admiration. 

"Chivalry the better part of discretion?' 

Miltoun answered: 

"You don't, I think, understand the kind of 
feeling I have for Mrs. Noel. It does not come 
into your scheme of things. It is the only feeling, 
however, with which I should care to marry, and 
I am not likely to feel it for anyone again." 

Lord Valleys felt once more that uncanny sense 
of insecurity. Was this true? And suddenly he 
felt : Yes, it is true ! The face before him was the 
face of one who would burn in his own fire sooner 
than depart from his standards. And a sudden 
sense of the utter seriousness of this dilemma 
dumbed him. 

' I can say no more at the moment,"' he mut- 
tered, and got up from the table. 



107 



CHAPTER XI 




[ADY CASTERLEY was that in- 
convenient thing an early riser. 
No woman in the kingdom was a 
better judge of a dew carpet. 
Nature had in her time displayed 
before her thousands of those pretty fabrics, 
where all the stars of the past night, dropped to 
the dark earth, were waiting to glide up to heaven 
again on the rays of the sun. At Ravensham she 
walked regularly in her gardens between half- 
past seven and eight, and when she paid a visit, 
was careful to subordinate whatever might be the 
local custom to this habit. 

When therefore her maid Randle came to Bar- 
bara's maid at seven o'clock, and said: "My old 
lady wants Lady Babs to get up," there was no 
particular pain in the breast of Barbara's maid, 
who was doing up her corsets. She merely an- 
swered: Til see to it. Lady Babs won't be too 
pleased !" And ten minutes later she entered that 
white-walled room which smelled of pinks a 
temple of drowsy sweetness, where the summer 
light was vaguely stealing through flowered 
chintz curtains. 

1 08 



THE PATRICIAN 

Barbara was sleeping with her cheek on her 
hand, and her tawny hair, gathered back, stream- 
ing over the pillow. Her lips were parted; and the 
maid thought: ' I'd like to have hair and a mouth 
like that !' She could not help smiling to herself 
with pleasure; Lady Babs looked so pretty 
prettier asleep even than awake ! And at sight of 
that beautiful creature, sleeping and smiling in 
her sleep, the earthy, hothouse fumes steeping 
the mind of one perpetually serving in an atmos- 
phere unsuited to her natural growth, dispersed. 
Beauty, with its queer touching power of freeing 
the spirit from all barriers and thoughts of self, 
sweetened the maid's eyes, and kept her stand- 
ing, holding her breath. For Barbara asleep was 
a symbol of that Golden Age in which she so 
desperately believed. She opened her eyes, and 
seeing the maid, said: 

'Is it eight o'clock, Stacey?' 

'No, but Lady Casterley wants you to walk 
with her." 

'Oh ! bother ! I was having such a dream !' 

! Yes; you were smiling." 

'I was dreaming that I could fly." 

"Fancy!" 

' I could see everything spread out below me, 
as close as I see you; I was hovering like a buz- 
zard hawk. I felt that I could come down exactly 

109 



THE PATRICIAN 

where I wanted. It was fascinating. I had per- 
fect power, Stacey." 

And throwing her neck back, she closed her 
eyes again. The sunlight streamed in on her be- 
tween the half-drawn curtains. 

The queerest impulse to put out a hand and 
stroke that full white throat shot through the 
maid's mind. 

'These flying machines are stupid," murmured 
Barbara; "the pleasure's in one's body wings !' 
'I can see Lady Casterley in the garden." 

Barbara sprang out of bed. Close by the statue 
of Diana Lady Casterley was standing, gazing 
down at some flowers, a tiny, grey figure. Bar- 
bara sighed. With her, in her dream, had been 
another buzzard hawk, and she was filled with a 
sort of surprise, and queer pleasure which ran 
down her in little shivers while she bathed and 
dressed. 

In her haste she took no hat; and still busy 
with the fastening of her linen frock, hurried 
down the stairs and Georgian corridor, towards 
the garden. At the end of it she almost ran into 
the arms of Courtier. 

Awakening early this morning, he had begun 
first thinking of Audrey Noel, threatened by 
scandal; then of his yesterday's companion, that 
glorious young creature, whose image had so 

no 



THE PATRICIAN 

gripped and taken possession of him. In the 
pleasure of this memory he had steeped himself. 
She was youth itself ! That perfect thing, a young 
girl without callowness. 

And his words, when she nearly ran into him, 
were: 'The Winged Victory !' 

Barbara's answer was equally symbolic: *A 
buzzard hawk ! Do you know, I dreamed we were 
flying, Mr. Courtier." 

Courtier gravely answered: 

'If the gods give me that dream ' 

From the garden door Barbara turned her 
head, smiled, and passed through. 

Lady Casterley, in the company of little Ann, 
who had perceived that it was novel to be in the 
garden at this hour, had been scrutinising some 
newly founded colonies of a flower with which she 
was not familiar. On seeing her granddaughter 
approach, she said at once: 

"What is this thing?" 

"Nemesia." 

"Never heard of it." 
'It's rather the fashion, Granny." 

"Nemesia?" repeated Lady Casterley. "What 
has Nemesis to do with flowers? I have no pa- 
tience with gardeners, and these idiotic names. 
Where is your hat? I like that duck's egg colour 
in your frock. There's a button undone." And 

in 



THE PATRICIAN 

reaching up her little spidery hand, wonderfully 
steady considering its age, she buttoned the top 
button but one of Barbara's bodice. 

c You look very blooming, my dear," she said. 
'How far is it to this woman's cottage? We'll go 
there now." 

"She wouldn't be up." 
Lady Casterley's eyes gleamed maliciously. 
: You tell me she's so nice," she said. "No nice 
unencumbered woman lies in bed after half-past 
seven. Which is the very shortest way? No, Ann, 
we can't take you." 

Little Ann, after regarding her great-grand- 
mother rather too intently, replied: 

'Well, I can't come, you see, because I've got 
to go." 

'Very well," said Lady Casterley, 'then trot 
along." 

Little Ann, tightening her lips, walked to the 
next colony of Nemesia, and bent over the colo- 
nists with concentration, showing clearly that she 
had found something more interesting than had 
yet been encountered. 

'Ha !" said Lady Casterley, and led on at her 
brisk pace towards the avenue. 

All the way down the drive she discoursed on 
woodcraft, glancing sharply at the trees. Forestry 
she said like building, and all other pursuits 

112 



THE PATRICIAN 

which required faith and patient industry, was a 
lost art in this second-hand age. She had made 
Barbara's grandfather practise it, so that at 
Catton (her country place) and even at Ravens- 
ham, the trees were worth looking at. Here, at 
Monkland, they were monstrously neglected. 
To have the finest Italian cypress in the country, 
for example, and not take more care of it, was a 
downright scandal ! 

Barbara listened, smiling lazily. Granny was so 
amusing in her energy and precision, and her 
turns of speech, so deliberately homespun, as if 
she than whom none could better use a stiff and 
polished phrase, or the refinements of the French 
language were determined to take what liber- 
ties she liked. To the girl, haunted still by the 
feeling that she could fly, almost drunk on the 
sweet air of that summer morning, it seemed 
funny that anyone should be like that. Then for 
a second she saw her grandmother's face in re- 
pose, off guard, grim with anxious purpose, as if 
questioning its hold on life; and in one of those 
flashes of intuition which come to women even 
when young and conquering like Barbara she 
felt suddenly sorry, as though she had caught 
sight of the pale spectre never yet seen by her. 
'Poor old dear,' she thought; 'what a pity to be 
old!' 



THE PATRICIAN 

But they had entered the footpath crossing 
three long meadows which climbed up towards 
Mrs. Noel's. It was sc golden-sweet here amongst 
the million tiny saffron cups frosted with linger- 
ing dew-shine; there was such flying elorv in the 

c^ x. 

limes and ash-trees : s o delicate a scent from the 
late whins and may-flower; and on every tree a 
grey bird calling to be sorry was not possible! 

In the far corner of the first field a chestnut 
mare w.-.< standing, with ears pricked at some 
distant sound whose charm she alone perceived. 
On viewing the intruders, she laid those ears 
bfivN. .-.nd a little vicious s:ar gleamed out at the 
corner of her eye. They passed her and entered 
the second field. Half way across, Barbara said 
quietly : 

""Granny, that's a bull!" 

It was indeed an enormous bull, who had been 
5 : ending behind a clump of bushes. He was mov- 

ing slowlv towards them, still distant about two 

- 

hundred yards; a great red beast, with the hu;^ 
development of neck and front which makes the 
bn . : f all living creatures, the symbol of brute 
Fora 

Lady Casterley envisaged hrm severely. 

ulls:' she "said; "I think^I mi;- 






... 
'You can't; it's too uphill.' 5 



THE PATRICIAN 

" I am not going to turn back," said Lady Cas- 
terlcy. E The bull ought not to be here. Whose 
fault is it? I shall speak to someone. Stand still 
and look at him. We must prevent his coming 



nearer.' 



They stood still and looked at the bull, who 
continued to approach. 

"It doesn't stop him," said Lady Casterley. 
"We must take no notice. Give me your arm, 
my dear; my legs feel rather funny." 

Barbara put her arm round the little figure. 
They walked on. 

"I have not been used to bulls lately," said 
Lady Casterley. The bull came nearer. 

"Granny," said Barbara, 'you must go 
quietly on to the stile. W'hen you're over I'll 
come too." 

"Certainly not," said Lady Casterley, 'we 
will go together. Take no notice of him; I have 
great faith in that." 

"Granny darling, you must do as I say, please; 
I remember this bull, he is one of ours." 

At those rather ominous words Lady Casterley 
gave her a sharp glance. 

"I shall not go," she said. "My legs feel quite 
strong now. We can run, if necessary." 

"So can the bull,"' said Barbara. 

"I'm not going to leave you," muttered Lady 

115 



THE PATRICIAN 

Casterley. 'If he turns vicious I shall talk to 
him. He won't touch me. You can run faster than 
I; so that's settled." 

'Don't be absurd, dear," answered Barbara; 
'I am not afraid of bulls." 

Lady Casterley flashed a look at her which had 
a gleam of amusement. 

'I can feel you," she said; 'you're just as 
trembly as I am." 

The bull was now distant some eighty yards, 

and they were still quite a hundred from the stile. 

'Granny," said Barbara, 'if you don't go on 

as I tell you, I shall just leave you, and go and 

meet him! You mustn't be obstinate!' 

Lady Casterley's answer was to grip her 
granddaughter round the waist; the nervous 
force of that thin arm was surprising. 

'You will do nothing of the sort," she said. 
"I refuse to have anything more to do with this 
bull; I shall simply pay no attention." 

The bull now began very slowly ambling 
towards them. 

'Take no notice," said Lady Casterley, who 
was walking faster than she had ever walked 
before. 

'The ground is level now," said Barbara; "can 
you run?' 

' I think so," gasped Lady Casterley; and sud- 

116 



THE PATRICIAN 

denly she found herself half-lifted from the 
ground, and, as ft were, flying towards the stile. 
She heard a noise behind; then Barbara's voice: 
'We must stop. He's on us. Get behind me." 
She felt herself caught and pinioned by two 
arms which seemed set on the wrong way. In- 
stinct, and a general softness told her that she 
was back to back with her granddaughter. 
'Let me go!' she gasped; 'let me go!' 
And suddenly she felt herself being propelled 
by that softness forward towards the stile. 
"Shoo! "she said; "shoo!" 
'Granny," Barbara's voice came, calm and 
breathless, "don't ! You only excite him ! Are we 
near the stile?' 

'Ten yards," panted Lady Casterley. 
'Look out, then !' There was a sort of warm 
flurry round her, a rush, a heave, a scramble; she 
was beyond the stile. The bull and Barbara, a 
yard or two apart, were just the other side. Lady 
Casterley raised her handkerchief and fluttered 
it. The bull looked up; Barbara, all legs and arms, 
came slipping down beside her. 

Without wasting a moment Lady Casterly 
leaned forward and addressed the bull: 

' You awful brute !" she said; " I will have you 
well flogged." 

Gently pawing the ground, the bull snuffled. 

117 



THE PATRICIAN 



r 'Are you any the worse, child?' 

'Not a scrap," said Barbara's serene, still 
breathless voice. 

Lady Casterley put up her hands, and took 
the girl's face between them. 

'What legs you have !" she said. "Give me a 
kiss!" 

Having received a hot, rather quivering kiss, 
she walked on, holding somewhat firmly to Bar- 
bara's arm. 

''As for that bull," she murmured, "the brute 
to attack women!' 

Barbara looked down at her. 

'Granny, are you quite sure you're not 
shaken?' 

Lady Casterley, whose lips were quivering, 
pressed them together very hard. 

"Not a b-b-bit." 

'Don't you think," said Barbara, 'that we 
had better go back, at once the other way?' 

'Certainly not. There are no more bulls, I 
suppose, between us and this woman?' 

'But are you fit to see her?' 

Lady Casterley passed her handkerchief over 
her lips, to remove their quivering. 

'Perfectly," she answered. 

c Then, dear," said Barbara, : ' stand still a 
minute, while I dust you behind." 

118 



THE PATRICIAN 

This having been accomplished, they pro- 
ceeded in the direction of Mrs. NoePs cottage. 

At sight of it, Lady Casterley said : 

" I shall put my foot down. It's out of the ques- 
tion for a man of Miltoun's prospects. I look for- 
ward to seeing him Prime Minister some day/' 
Hearing Barbara's voice murmuring above her, 
she paused: 'What's that you say?' 

"I said: What is the use of our being what we 
are, if we can't love whom we like?' 

'Love!" said Lady Casterley; "I was talking 
of marriage." 

"I am glad you admit the distinction, Granny 
dear." 

c You are pleased to be sarcastic," said Lady 
Casterley. ' Listen to me ! It's the greatest non- 
sense to suppose that people in our caste are free 
to do as they please. The sooner you realise that, 
the better, Babs. I am talking to you seriously. 
The preservation of our position as a class de- 
pends on our observing certain decencies. What 
do you imagine would happen to the Royal 
Family if they were allowed to marry as they 
liked? All this marrying with Gaiety girls, and 
American money, and people with pasts, and 
writers, and so forth, is most damaging. There's 
far too much of it, and it ought to be stopped. 
It may be tolerated for a few cranks, or silly 

119 



THE PATRICIAN 

young men, and these new women, but for Eu- 
stace Lady Casterley paused again, and 
her fingers pinched Barbara's arm, "or for you 
there's only one sort of marriage possible. As 
for Eustace, I shall speak to this good lady, and 
see that he doesn't get entangled further." 

Absorbed in the intensity of her purpose, she 
did not observe a peculiar little smile playing 
round Barbara's lips. 

"You had better speak to Nature, too, 
Granny!' 

Lady Casterley stopped short, and looked up 
in her granddaughter's face. 

"Now what do you mean by that?" she said: 
"Tell me!" 

But noticing that Barbara's lips had closed 
tightly, she gave her arm a hard if unintentional 
pinch, and walked on. 



120 




CHAPTER XII 

:ADY CASTERLEY J S rather 

Ifcious diagnosis of Audrey Noel 
was correct. The unencumbered 
woman was up and in her garden 
when Barbara and her grand- 
mother appeared at the wicket gate; but being 
near the lime-tree at the far end she did not hear 
the rapid colloquy which passed between them. 
c You are going to be good, Granny?' 
"As to that it will depend." 
'You promised." 
"H'm!" 

Lady Casterley could not possibly have pro- 
vided herself with a better introduction than 
Barbara, whom Mrs. Noel never met without the 
sheer pleasure felt by a sympathetic woman when 
she sees embodied in someone else that "joy in 
life' 1 which Fate has not permitted to herself. 

She came forward with her head a little on one 
side, a trick of hers not at all affected, and stood 
waiting. 

The unembarrassed Barbara began at once: 
'We've just had an encounter with a bull. 
This is my grandmother, Lady Casterley." 
The little old lady's demeanour, confronted 

121 



THE PATRICIAN 

with this very pretty face and figure, was a 
thought less autocratic and abrupt than usual. 
Her shrewd eyes saw at once that she had no 
common adventuress to deal with. She was 
woman of the world enough, too, to know that 
'birth' 1 ' was not what it had been in her young 
days, that even money was rather rococo, and 
that good looks, manners, and a knowledge 
of literature, art, and music (and this woman 
looked like one of that sort), were often consid- 
ered socially more valuable. She was therefore 
both wary and affable. 

'How do you do?" she said. "I have heard of 
you. May we sit down for a minute in your gar- 
den? The bull was a wretch!' 

But even in speaking, she was uneasily con- 
scious that Mrs. Noel's clear eyes were seeing 
very well what she had come for. The look in 
them indeed was almost cynical; and in spite of 
her sympathetic murmurs, she did not somehow 
seem to believe in the bull. This was disconcert- 
ing. Why had Barbara condescended to mention 
the wretched brute? And she decided to take 
him by the horns. 

'Babs,' 3 she said, 'go to the Inn and order 
me a 'fly.' I shall drive back, I feel very shaky," 
and, as Mrs. Noel offered to send her maid, she 
added: "No, no, my granddaughter will go." 

122 



THE PATRICIAN 

Barbara having departed with a quizzical 

Lady Casterley patted the rustic seat, and said : 

'Do come and sit down, I want to talk to you." 

Mrs. Noel obeyed. And at once Lady Casterley 
perceived that she had a most difficult task be- 
fore her. She had not expected a woman with 
whom one could take no liberties. Those clear 
dark eyes, and that soft, perfectly graceful man- 
ner to a person so :< sympathetic' one should 
be able to say anything, and one couldn't. It 
was awkward. And suddenly she noticed that 
Mrs. Noel was sitting perfectly upright, as up- 
right more upright, than she was herself. A bad 
sign a very bad sign ! Taking out her handker- 
chief, she put it to her lips. 

'I suppose you think/ 1 she said, 'that we 
were not chased by a bull.' 3 

'I am sure you were." 

' Indeed ! But you're quite right Fve some- 
thing else to talk to you about." 

Mrs. Noel's face quivered back, as a flower 
might when it was going to be plucked; and again 
Lady Casterley put her handkerchief to her lips. 
This time she rubbed them hard. There was noth- 
ing to come off; to do so, therefore, was a satis- 
faction. 

'I am an old woman," she said, 'and you 
mustn't mind what I say." 

123 



THE PATRICIAN 

Mrs. Noel did not answer, but looked straight 
at her visitor; to whom it seemed suddenly that 
this was another person. What was it about that 
face, staring at her ! In a weird way it reminded 
her of a child whom one had hurt with those 
great eyes and that soft hair, and the mouth thin, 
in a line, all of a sudden. And as if it had been 
jerked out of her, she said: 

' I don't want to hurt you, my dear. It's about 
my grandson, of course." 

But Mrs. Noel made neither sign nor motion; 
and the feeling of irritation which so rapidly at- 
tacks the old when confronted by the unexpected, 
came to Lady Casterley's aid. 

"His name," she said, 'is being coupled with 
yours in a way that's doing him a great deal of 
harm. You don't wish to injure him, I'm sure." 

Mrs. Noel shook her head, and Lady Casterley 
went on: 

"I don't know what they're not saying since 
the evening your friend Mr. Courtier hurt his 
knee. Miltoun has been most unwise. You had 
not perhaps realised that." 

Mrs. Noel's answer was bitterly distinct: 

"I didn't know anyone was sufficiently inter- 
ested in my doings." 

Lady Casterley suffered a gesture of exaspera- 
tion to escape her. 

124 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Good heavens!' she said; 'every common 
person is interested in a woman whose position 
is anomalous. Living alone as you do, and not a 
widow, you're fair game for everybody, es- 
pecially in the country.' 5 

Mrs. Noel's sidelong glance, very clear and 
cynical, seemed to say: 'Even for you.' 

"I am not entitled to ask your story," Lady 
Casterley went on, 'but if you make mysteries 
you must expect the worst interpretation put on 
them. My grandson is a man of the highest prin- 
ciple; he does not see things with the eyes of the 
world, and that should have made you doubly 
careful not to compromise him, especially at a 
time like this." 

Mrs. Noel smiled. This smile startled Lady 
Casterley; it seemed, by concealing everything, 
to reveal depths of strength and subtlety. Would 
the woman never show her hand? And she said 
abruptly: 

:c Anything serious, of course, is out of the 
question." 

"Quite." 

That word, which of all others seemed the 
right one, was spoken so that Lady Casterley 
did not know in the least what it meant. Though 
occasionally employing irony, she detested it in 
others. No woman should be allowed to use it as 

125 



THE PATRICIAN 

a weapon ! But in these days, when they were so 
foolish as to want votes, one never knew what 
women would be at. This particular woman, how- 
ever, did not look like one of that sort. She was 
feminine very feminine the sort of creature 
that spoiled men by being too nice to them. And 
though she had come determined to find out all 
about everything and put an end to it, she saw 
Barbara re-entering the wicket gate with con- 
siderable relief. 

'I am ready to walk home now," she said. 
And getting up from the rustic seat, she made 
Mrs. Noel a satirical little bow. 

' Thank you for letting me rest. Give me your 
arm, child." 

Barbara gave her arm, and over her shoulder 
threw a swift smile at Mrs. Noel, who did not 
answer it, but stood looking quietly after them, 
her eyes very dark. 

Out in the lane Lady Casterley walked on, 
silent, digesting her emotions. 

"What about the 'fly/ Granny?" 

"What 'fly'?" 

'The one you told me to order." 
'You don't mean to say that you took me 
seriously ? ' 

"No," said Barbara. 

"Ha!" 

126 



THE PATRICIAN 

They proceeded some little way farther before 
Lady Casterley said suddenly: 

"She is deep." 

: 'And dark," said Barbara. 'I am afraid you 
were not good !' 

Lady Casterley glanced upwards. 

'I detest this habit," she said, "amongst you 
young people, of taking nothing seriously. Not 
even bulls," she added, with a grim smile. 

Barbara threw back her head and sighed. 

"Nor 'flys,'" she said. 

Lady Casterley saw that she had closed her 
eyes and opened her lips. And she thought: 

'She's a very beautiful girl. I had no idea she 
was so beautiful but too big ! ' And she added 
aloud: 

'Shut your mouth ! You will get one down I' 1 

They spoke no more till they had entered the 
avenue; then Lady Casterley said sharply: 

'Who is this coming down the drive?' 

"Mr. Courtier, I think." 

'What does he mean by it, with that leg?' 

'He is coming to talk to you, Granny." 

Lady Casterley stopped short. 

'You are a cat," she said; "a sly cat. Now 
mind, Babs, I won't have it!' 

'No, darling," murmured Barbara; 'you 
shan't have it I'll take him off your hands." 

127 



THE PATRICIAN 

'What does your mother mean/ 3 stammered 
Lady Casterley, 'letting you grow up like this ! 
You're as bad as she was at your age !' 

'Worse !" said Barbara. " I dreamed last night 
that I could fly!" 

'If you try that," said Lady Casterley grimly, 
'you'll soon come to grief. Good-morning, sir; 
you ought to be in bed!' 
Courtier raised his hat. 

'Surely it is not for me to be where you are 
not !" And he added gloomily: "The war scare's 
dead!" 

: 'Ah!' said Lady Casterley: 'your occupa- 
tion's gone then. You'll go back to London now, 
I suppose." Looking suddenly at Barbara she 
saw that the girl's eyes were half-closed, and that 
she was smiling; it seemed to Lady Casterley too 
or was it fancy? that she shook her head. 



128 




CHAPTER XIII 

[HANKS to Lady Valleys, a pa- 
troness of birds, no owl was ever 
shot on the Monkland Court es- 
tate, and these soft-flying spirits 
of the dusk hooted and hunted, to 
the great benefit of all except the creeping voles. 
By every farm, cottage, and field, they passed 
invisible, quartering the dark air. Their voyages 
of discovery stretched up on to the moor as far 
as the wild stone man, whos^ origin their wisdom 
perhaps knew. Round Audrey Noel's cottage 
they were thick as thieves, for they had just 
there two habitations in a long, old, holly-grown 
wall, and almost seemed to be guarding the mis- 
tress of that thatched dwelling so numerous 
were their fluttering rushes, so tenderly pro- 
longed their soft sentinel callings. Now that the 
weather was really warm, so that joy of life was 
in the voles, they found those succulent creatures 
of an extraordinarily pleasant flavour, and on 
them each pair was bringing up a family of ex- 
ceptionally fine little owls, very solemn, with big 
heads, bright large eyes, and wings as yet only 

129 



THE PATRICIAN 

able to fly downwards. There was scarcely any 
hour from noon of the day (for some of them had 
horns) to the small sweet hours when no one 
heard them, that they forgot to salute the very 
large, quiet, wingless owl whom they could espy 
moving about by day above their mouse-runs, 
or preening her white and sometimes blue and 
sometimes grey feathers morning and evening in 
a large square hole high up in the front wall. And 
they could not understand at all why no swift 
depredating graces nor any habit of long soft 
hooting belonged to that lady-bird. 

On the evening of the day when she received 
that early morning call, as soon as dusk had 
fallen, wrapped in a long thin cloak, with black 
lace over her dark hair, Audrey Noel herself flut- 
tered out into the lanes, as if to join the grave 
winged hunters of the invisible night. Those far, 
continual sounds, not still in the country till 
long after the sun dies, had but just ceased from 
haunting the air, where the late May-scent clung 
as close as fragrance clings to a woman's robe. 
There was just the barking of a dog, the boom of 
migrating chafers, the song of the stream, and of 
the owls, to proclaim the beating in the heart of 
this dark Night. Nor was there any light by 
which Night's face could be seen ; it was hidden, 
anonymous; so that when a lamp in a cottage 

130 



THE PATRICIAN 

threw a blink over the opposite bank, it was as if 
some wandering painter had wrought a picture 
of stones and leaves on the black air, framed it in 
purple, and left it hanging. Yet, if it could only 
have been come at, the Night was as full of emo- 
tion as this woman who wandered, shrinking 
away against the banks if anyone passed, stop- 
ping to cool her hot face with the dew on the 
ferns, walking swiftly to console her warm heart. 
Anonymous Night seeking for a symbol could 
have found none better than this errant figure, 
to express its hidden longings, the fluttering, un- 
seen rushes of its dark wings, and all its secret 
passion of revolt against its own anonymity. . . . 

At Monkland Court, save for little Ann, the 
morning passed but dumbly, everyone feeling 
that something must be done, and no one know- 
ing what. At lunch, the only allusion to the situa- 
tion had been Harbinger's inquiry: 

"When does Miltoun return?" 

He had wired, it seemed, to say that he was 
motoring down that night. 

"The sooner the better/ 5 Sir William mur- 
mured: "we've still a fortnight." 

But all had felt from the tone in which he spoke 
these words, how serious was the position in the 
eyes of that experienced campaigner. 

What with the collapse of the war scare, and 



THE PATRICIAN 

this canard about Mrs. Noel, there was indeed 
cause for alarm. 

The afternoon post brought a letter from Lord 
Valleys marked Express. 

Lady Valleys opened it with a slight grimace, 
which deepened as she read. Her handsome, florid 
face wore an expression of sadness seldom seen 
there. There was, in fact, more than a touch 
of dignity in her reception of the unpalatable 
news. 

* Eustace declares his intention of marrying 
this Mrs. NoeP -so ran her husband's letter 



know, unfortunately, of no way in which I 
can prevent him. If you can discover legitimate 
means of dissuasion, it would be well to use them. 
My dear, it's the very devil." 

It was the very devil ! For, if Miltoun had al- 
ready made up his mind to marry her, without 
knowledge of the malicious rumour, what would 
not be his determination now? And the woman 
of the world rose up in Lady Valleys. This mar- 
riage must not come off. It was contrary to al- 
most every instinct of one who was practical not 
only by character, but by habit of life and train- 
ing. Her warm and full-blooded nature had a 
sneaking sympathy with love and pleasure, and 

132 



THE PATRICIAN 

had she not been practical, she might have found 
this side of her a serious drawback to the main 
tenor of a life so much in view of the public eye. 
Her consciousness of this danger in her own case 
made her extremely alive to the risks of an un- 
desirable connection especially if it were a mar- 
riageto any public man. At the same time the 
mother-heart in her was stirred. Eustace had 
never been so deep in her affection as Bertie, still 
he was her first-born; and in face of news which 
meant that he was lost to her for this must in- 
deed be "the marriage of two minds' (or what- 
ever that quotation was) she felt strangely 
jealous of a woman, who had won her son's love, 
when she herself had never won it. The aching of 
this jealousy gave her face for a moment almost 
a spiritual expression, then passed away into im- 
patience. Why should he marry her? Things 
could be arranged. People spoke of it already as 
an illicit relationship; well then, let people have 
what they had invented. If the worst came to the 
worst, this was not the only constituency in Eng- 
land; and a dissolution could not be far off. Bet- 
ter anything than a marriage which would handi- 
cap him all his life ! But would it be so great a 
handicap? After all, beauty counted for much! 
If only her story were not too conspicuous ! But 
what was her story? Not to know it was absurd ! 

133 



THE PATRICIAN 

That was the worst of people who were not in 
Society, it was so difficult to find out ! And there 
rose in her that almost brutal resentment, which 
ferments very rapidly in those who from their 
youth up have been hedged round with the belief 
that they and they alone are the whole of the 
world. In this mood Lady Valleys passed the 
letter to her daughters. They read, and in turn 
handed it to Bertie, who in silence returned it to 
his mother. 

But that evening, in the billiard-room, having 
manoeuvred to get him to herself, Barbara said 
to Courtier: 

"I wonder if you will answer me a question, 
Mr. Courtier ?" 

'If I may, and can." 

Her low-cut dress was of yew-green, with little 
threads of flame-colour, matching her hair, so 
that there was about her a splendour of darkness 
and whiteness and gold, almost dazzling; and she 
stood very still, leaning back against the lighter 
green of the billiard table, grasping its edge so 
tightly that the smooth strong backs of her hands 
quivered. 

"We have just heard that Miltoun is going to 
ask Mrs. Noel to marry him. People are never 
mysterious, are they, without good reason? I 
wanted you to tell me who is she?' 

134 



THE PATRICIAN 

'I don't think I quite grasp the situation," 
murmured Courtier. You said to marry him?' 

Seeing that she had put out her hand, as if 
begging for the truth, he added: "How can your 
brother marry her she's married!' 

"Oh!" 

'I'd no idea you didn't know that much." 
'We thought there was a divorce." 

The expression of which mention has been 
made that peculiar white-hot sardonically jolly 
look visited Courtier's face at once. 'Hoist 
with their own petard ! The usual thing. Let a 
pretty woman live alone the tongues of men 
will do the rest." 

'It was not so bad as that," said Barbara 
dryly; "they said she had divorced her husband." 

Caught out thus characteristically riding past 
the hounds Courtier bit his lips. 

c You had better hear the story now. Her 
father was a country parson, and a friend of my 
father's; so that I've known her from a child. 
Stephen Lees Noel was his curate. It was a 
'snap' marriage she was only twenty, and had 
met hardly any men. Her father was ill and 
wanted to see her settled before he died. Well, 
she found out almost directly, like a good many 
other people, that she'd made an utter mistake." 

Barbara came a little closer. 

135 



THE PATRICIAN 

What was the man like? 



Not bad in his way, but one of those narrow, 
conscientious pig-headed fellows who make the 
most trying kind of husband bone egoistic. A 
parson of that type has no chance at all. Every 
mortal thing he has to do or say helps him to de- 
velop his worst points. The wife of a man like 
that's no better than a slave. She began to show 
the strain of it at last; though she's the sort who 
goes on till she snaps. It took him four years to 
realise. Then, the question was, what were they 
to do? He's a very High Churchman, with all 
their feeling about marriage; but luckily his pride 
was wounded. Anyway, they separated two years 
ago; and there she is, left high and dry. People 
say it was her fault. She ought to have known 
her own mind at twenty ! She ought to have 
held on and hidden it up somehow. Confound 
their thick-skinned charitable souls, what do 
they know of how a sensitive woman suffers? 
Forgive me, Lady Barbara I get hot over this/ 3 
He was silent; then seeing her eyes fixed on him, 
went on: "Her mother died when she was born, 
her father soon after her marriage. She's enough 
money of her own, luckily, to live on quietly. 
As for him, he changed his parish and runs one 
somewhere in the Midlands. One's sorry for the 
poor devil, too, of course ! They never see each 

136 



THE PATRICIAN 

other; and, so far as I know, they don't corre- 
spond. That, Lady Barbara, is the simple his- 

99 

tory. 

Barbara said, " Thank you," and turned away; 
and he heard her mutter: "What a shame!' 

But he could not tell whether it was Mrs. 
Noel's fate, or the husband's fate, or the thought 
of Miltoun that had moved her to those words. 

She puzzled him by her self-possession, so al- 
most hard, her way of refusing to show feeling. 
Yet what a woman she would make if the drying 
curse of high-caste life were not allowed to ster- 
eotype and shrivel her ! If enthusiasm were suf- 
fered to penetrate and fertilise her soul ! She re- 
minded him of a great tawny lily. He had a vision 
of her, as that flower, floating, freed of roots and 
the mould of its cultivated soil, in the liberty of 
the impartial air. What a passionate and noble 
thing she might become ! What radiance and per- 
fume she would exhale ! A spirit Fleur-de-Lys ! 
Sister to all the noble flowers of light that in- 
habited the wind ! 

Leaning in the deep embrasure of his window, 
he looked at anonymous Night. He could hear 
the owls hoot, and feel a heart beating out there 
somewhere in the darkness, but there came no 
answer to his wondering. Would she this great 
tawny lily of a girl ever become unconscious of 

137 



THE PATRICIAN 

her environment, not in manner merely, but in 
the very soul, so that she might be just a woman, 
breathing, suffering, loving, and rejoicing with 
the poet soul of all mankind? Would she ever be 
capable of riding out with the little company of 
big hearts, naked of advantage? Courtier had 
not been inside a church for twenty years, having 
long felt that he must not enter the mosques of 
his country without putting off the shoes of free- 
dom, but he read the Bible, considering it a very 
great poem. And the old words came haunting 
him: 'Verily I say unto you, It is easier for a 
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than 
for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven." 
And now, looking into the Night, whose darkness 
seemed to hold the answer to all secrets, he tried 
to read the riddle of this girPs future, with which 
there seemed so interwoven that larger enigma, 
how far the spirit can free itself, in this life, from 
the matter that encompasseth. 

The night whispered suddenly, and low down, 
as if rising from the sea, came the moon, drop- 
ping a wan robe of light till she gleamed out nude 
against the sky-curtain. Night was no longer 
anonymous. There in the dusky garden the statue 
of Diana formed slowly before his eyes, and be- 
hind her as it were, her temple rose the tall 
spire of the cypress-tree. 

138 




CHAPTER XIV 

COPY of the Bucklandbury News 
containing an account of his eve- 
ning adventure, did not reach 
Miltoun till he was just starting 
on his return journey. It came 
marked with blue pencil together with a note. 

"Mv DEAR EUSTACE, 

"The enclosed however unwarranted and 
impudent requires attention. But we shall do 
nothing till you come back. 

1 Yours ever, 

WILLIAM SHROPTON." 



The effect on Miltoun might perhaps have 
been different had he not been so conscious of his 
intention to ask Audrey Noel to be his wife; but 
in any circumstances it is doubtful whether he 
would have done more than smile, and tear the 
paper up. Truly that sort of thing had so little 
power to hurt or disturb him personally, that he 
was incapable of seeing how it could hurt or dis- 
turb others. If those who read it were affected, 

139 



THE PATRICIAN 

so much the worse for them. He had a real, if 
unobtrusive, contempt for groundlings, of what- 
ever class; and it never entered his head to step 
an inch out of his course in deference to then- 
vagaries. Nor did it come home to him that Mrs. 
Noel, wrapped in the glamour which he cast 
about her, could possibly suffer from the mean- 
ness of vulgar minds. Shropton's note, indeed, 
caused him the more annoyance of those two 
documents. It was like his brother-in-law to 
make much of Irtt. 

He hardly dozed at all during his swift jour- 
ney through the sleeping country; nor when he 
reached his room at Monkland did he go to bed. 
He had the wonderful, upborne feeling of man 
on the verge of achievement. His spirit and senses 
were both on fire for that was the quality of this 
woman, she suffered no part of him to sleep, and 
he was glad of her exactions. 

He drank some tea, went out, and took a path 
up to the moor. It was not yet eight o'clock when 
he reached the top of the nearest tor. And there, 
below him, around, and above, was a land and 
sky transcending even his exaltation. It was like 
a symphony of great music; or the nobility of a 
stupendous mind laid bare; h was God up there, 
in His many moods. Serenity was spread in the 
middle heavens, blue, illimitable; and along to 

i -to 



THE PATRICIAN 

the East, three huge clouds, like thoughts brood- 
ing over the destinies below, moved slowly to- 
ward the sea, so that great shadows filled the 
valleys. And the land that lay under all the other 
sky was gleaming and quivering with every col- 
our, as it were, clothed with the divine smile. The 
wind, from the North, whereon floated the white 
birds of the smaller clouds, had no voice, for it 
was above barriers, utterly free. Before Miltoun, 
turning to this wind, lay the maze of the lower 
lands, the misty greens, rose pinks, and browns 
of the fields, and white and grey dots and strokes 
of cottages and church towers, fading into the 
blue veil of distance, confined by a far range of 
hills. Behind him there was nothing but the rest- 
less surface of the moor, coloured purplish-brown. 
On that untamed sea of graven wildness could be 
seen no ship of man, save one, on the far horizon 
-the grim hulk, Dartmoor Prison. There was no 
sound, no scent, and it seemed to Miltoun as if 
his spirit had left his body, and become part of the 
solemnity of God. Yet, while he stood there, with 
his head bared, the strange smile which haunted 
him in moments of deep feeling, showed that he 
had not surrendered to the Universal, that his 
own spirit was but being fortified, and that this 
was the true and secret source of his delight. He 
lay down in a scoop of the stones. The sun en- 



THE PATRICIAN 

tered there, but no wind, so that a dry sweet 
scent exuded from the young shoots of heather. 
That warmth and perfume crept through the 
shield of his spirit, and stole into his blood; ar- 
dent images rose before him, the vision of an 
unending embrace. Out of an embrace sprang 
Life, out of that the World was made, this World, 
with its innumerable forms, and natures no two 
alike ! And from him and her would spring forms 
to take their place in the great pattern ! This 
seemed wonderful, and right for they would be 
worthy forms, who would hand on those tradi- 
tions which seemed to him so necessary and great. 
And then there broke on him one of those deliri- 
ous waves of natural desire, against which he had 
so often fought, so often with great pain con- 
quered. He got up, and ran downhill, leaping over 
the stones, and the thicker clumps of heather. 

Audrey Noel, too, had been early astir, though 
she had gone late enough to bed. She dressed 
languidly, but very carefully, being one of those 
women who put on armour against Fate, because 
they are proud, and dislike the thought that 
their sufferings should make others suffer; be- 
cause, too, their bodies are to them as it were 
sacred, having been given them in trust, to cause 
delight. When she had finished, she looked at her- 

142 



THE PATRICIAN 

self in the glass rather more distrustfully than 
usual. She felt that her sort of woman was at a 
discount in these days, and being sensitive, she 
was never content either with her appearance, 
or her habits. But, for all that, she went on be- 
having in unsatisfactory ways, because she in- 
corrigibly loved to look as charming as she could; 
and even if no one were going to see her, she never 
felt that she looked charming enough. She was- 
as Lady Casterley had shrewdly guessed the 
kind of woman who spoils men by being too nice 
to them; of no use to those who wish women to 
assert themselves; yet having a certain passive 
stoicism, very disconcerting. With little or no 
power of initiative, she would do what she was 
set to do with a thoroughness that would shame 
an initiator; temperamentally unable to beg any- 
thing of anybody, she required love as a plant 
requires water; she could give herself completely, 
yet remain oddly incorruptible; in a word, hope- 
less, and usually beloved of those who thought 
her so. With all this, however, she was not quite 
what is called a ''sweet woman' -a phrase she 
detested for there was in her a queer vein of 
gentle cynicism. She 'saw' with extraordinary 
clearness, as if she had been born in Italy and still 
carried that clear dry atmosphere about her soul. 
She loved glow and warmth and colour; such 

143 



THE PATRICIAN 

mysticism as she felt was pagan; and she had few 
aspirations sufficient to her were things as they 
showed themselves to be. 

This morning, when she had made herself 
smell of geraniums, and fastened all the small 
contrivances that hold even the best of women 
together, she went downstairs to her little dining- 
room, set the spirit lamp going, and taking up her 
newspaper, stood waiting to make tea. 

It was the hour of the day most dear to her. 
If the dew had been brushed off her life, it was 
still out there every morning on the face of Na- 
ture, and on the faces of her flowers; there was 
before her all the pleasure of seeing how each of 
those little creatures in the garden had slept; 
how many children had been born since the 
Dawn; who was ailing, and needed attention. 
There was also the feeling, which renews itself 
every morning in people who live lonely lives, 
that they are not lonely, until, the day wearing 
on, assures them of the fact. Not that she was 
idle, for she had obtained through Courtier the 
work of reviewing music in a woman's paper, for 
which she was intuitively fitted. This, her flowers, 
her own music, and the affairs of certain families 
of cottagers, filled nearly all her time. And she 
asked no better fate than to have every minute 
occupied, having that passion for work requiring 

144 



THE PATRICIAN 

no initiation, which is natural to the owners of 
lazy minds. 

Suddenly she dropped her newspaper, went to 
the bowl of flowers on the breakfast-table, and 
plucked forth two stalks of lavender; holding 
them away from her, she went out into the gar- 
den, and flung them over the wall. 

This strange immolation of those two poor 
sprigs, born so early, gathered and placed before 
her with such kind intention by her maid, seemed 
of all acts the least to be expected of one who 
hated to hurt people's feelings, and whose eyes 
always shone at the sight of flowers. But in truth 
the smell of lavender that scent carried on her 
husband's handkerchief and clothes still af- 
fected her so strongly that she could not bear to 
be in a room with it. As nothing else did, it 
brought before her one, to live with whom had 
slowly become torture. And freed by that scent, 
the whole flood of memory broke in on her. The 
memory of three years when her teeth had been 
set doggedly on her discovery that she was 
chained to unhappiness for life; the memory of 
the abrupt end, and of her creeping away to let 
her scorched nerves recover. Of how during the 
first year of this release which was not free- 
dom, she had twice changed her abode, to get 
away from her own story not because she was 

145 



THE PATRICIAN 

ashamed of it, but because it reminded her of 
wretchedness. Of how she had then come to 
Monkland, where the quiet life had slowly given 
her elasticity again. And then of her meeting with 
Miltoun; the unexpected delight of that com- 
panionship; the frank enjoyment of the first four 
months. And she remembered all her secret re- 
joicing, her silent identification of another life 
with her own, before she acknowledged or even 
suspected love. And just three weeks ago now, 
helping to tie up her roses, he had touched her, 
and she had known. But even then, until the 
night of Courtier's accident, she had not dared 
to realise. More concerned now for him than for 
herself, she asked herself a thousand times if she 
had been to blame. She had let him grow fond of 
her, a woman out of court, a dead woman ! An 
unpardonable sin ! Yet surely that depended on 
what she was prepared to give ! And she was 
frankly ready to give everything, and ask for 
nothing. He knew her position, he had told her 
that he knew. In her love for him she gloried, 
would continue to glory; would suffer for it with- 
out regret. Miltoun was right in believing that 
newspaper gossip was incapable of hurting her, 
though her reasons for being so impervious were 
not what he supposed. She was not, like him, se- 
cured from pain because such insinuations about 

146 



THE PATRICIAN 

the private affairs of others were mean and vul- 
gar and beneath notice; it had not as yet oc- 
curred to her to look at the matter in so lofty and 
general a light; she simply was not hurt, be- 
cause she was already so deeply Miltoun's prop- 
erty in spirit, that she was almost glad that they 
should assign him all the rest of her. But for 
Miltoun's sake she was disturbed to the soul. 
She had tarnished his shield in the eyes of men; 
and (for she was oddly practical, and saw things 
in very clear proportion) perhaps put back his 
career, who knew for how many years ! 

She sat down to drink her tea. Not being a cry- 
ing woman, she suffered quietly. She felt that 
Miltoun would be coming to her. She did not 
know at all what she should say when he did 
come. He could not care for her so much as she 
cared for him ! He was a man; men soon forget ! 
Ah ! but he was not like most men. One could not 
look at his eyes without feeling that he could suf- 
fer terribly ! In all this her own reputation con- 
cerned her not at all. Life, and her clear way of 
looking at things, had rooted in her the convic- 
tion that to a woman the preciousness of her 
reputation was a fiction invented by men en- 
tirely for man's benefit; a second-hand fetish in- 
sidiously, inevitably set-up by men for worship, 
in novels, plays, and law-courts. Her instinct 

147 



THE PATRICIAN 

told her that men could not feel secure in the 
possession of their women unless they could be- 
lieve that women set tremendous store by sexual 
reputation. What they wanted to believe, that 
they did believe ! But she knew otherwise. Such 
great-minded women as she had met or read of 
had always left on her the impression that repu- 
tation for them was a matter of the spirit, having 
little to do w r ith sex. From her own feelings she 
knew that reputation, for a simple woman, meant 
to stand well in the eyes of him or her whom she 
loved best. For worldly women and there were 
so many kinds of those, besides the merely fash- 
ionable she had always noted that its value was 
not intrinsic, but commercial; not a crown of 
dignity, but just a marketable asset. She did not 
dread in the least what people might say of her 
friendship with Miltoun; nor did she feel at all 
that her indissoluble marriage forbade her loving 
him. She had secretly felt free as soon as she had 
discovered that she had never really loved her 
husband; she had only gone on dutifully, until the 
separation, from sheer passivity and because it 
was against her nature to cause pain to anyone. 
The man who was still her husband was now as 
dead to her as if he had never been born. She 
could not marry again, it was true; but she could 
and did love. If that love was to be starved and 

148 



THE PATRICIAN 

die away, it would not be because of any moral 
scruples. 

She opened her paper languidly; and almost 
the first words she read, under the heading of 
Election News, were these: 

'' Apropos of the outrage on Mr. Courtier, we 
are requested to state that the lady who accom- 
panied Lord Miltoun to the rescue of that gen- 
tleman was Mrs. Lees Noel, wife of the Rev. 
Stephen Lees Noel, vicar of Clathampton, War- 
wickshire." 

This dubious little daub of whitewash only 
brought a rather sad smile to her lips. She left her 
tea, and went out into the air. There at the gate 
was Miltoun coming in. Her heart leaped. But 
she went forward quietly, and greeted him with 
cast-down eyes, as if nothing were out of the 
ordinary. 



149 




CHAPTER XV 

SALTATION had not left Mil- 
toun. His sallow face was flushed, 
his eyes glowed with a sort of 
beauty; and Audrey Noel who, 
better than most women, could 
read what was passing behind a face, saw those 
eyes with the delight of a moth fluttering towards 
a lamp. But in a very unemotional voice she said: 
'So you have come to breakfast. How nice of 

you!" 

It was not in Miltoun to observe the formali- 
ties of attack. Had he been going to fight a duel 
there would have been no preliminary, just a 
look, a bow, and the swords crossed. So in this 
first engagement of his with the soul of a woman ! 

He neither sat down nor suffered her to sit, but 
stood looking intently into her face, and said: 

"I love you." 

Now that it had come, with this disconcert- 
ing swiftness, she was strangely calm, and un- 
ashamed. The elation of knowing for sure that 
she was loved w r as like a wand waving away all 
tremors, stilling them to sweetness. Since noth- 

150 



THE PATRICIAN 

ing could take away that knowledge, it seemed 
that she could never again be utterly unhappy. 
Then, too, in her nature, so deeply, unreason- 
ingly incapable of perceiving the importance of 
any principle but love, there was a secret feeling 
of assurance, of triumph. He did love her ! And 
she, him ! Well ! And suddenly panic-stricken, 
lest he should take back those words, she put her 
hand up to his breast, and said: 

"And I love you/ 1 

The feel of his arms round her, the strength 
and passion of that moment, were so terribly 
sweet, that she died to thought, just looking up 
at him, with lips parted and eyes darker with 
the depth of her love than he had ever dreamed 
that eyes could be. The madness of his own feel- 
ing kept him silent. And they stood there, so 
merged in one another that they knew and cared 
nothing for any other mortal thing. It was very 
still in the room; the roses and carnations in the 
lustre bowl, seeming to know that their mistress 
was caught up into heaven, had let their per- 
fume steal forth and occupy every cranny of the 
abandoned air; a hovering bee, too, circled round 
the lovers' heads, scenting, it seemed, the honey 
in their hearts. 

It has been said that Miltoun's face was not 
unhandsome; for Audrey Noel at this moment 

151 



THE PATRICIAN 

when his eyes were so near hers, and his lips 
touching her, he was transfigured, and had be- 
come the spirit of all beauty. And she, with heart 
beating fast against him, her eyes, half closing 
from delight, and her hair asking to be praised 
with its fragrance, her cheeks fainting pale with 
emotion, and her arms too languid with happi- 
ness to embrace him she, to him, was the in- 
carnation of the woman who visits dreams. 

So passed that moment. 

The bee ended it; impatient with flowers that 
hid their honey so deep, he was entangled in 
Audrey's hair. Then, seeing that words, those 
dreaded things, were on his lips, she tried to 
kiss them back. 

'When will you marry me?' 

It all swayed a little. And with marvellous 
rapidity the whole position started up before her. 
She saw, with preternatural insight, into its 
nooks and corners. Something he had said one 
day, when they were talking of the Church view 
of marriage and divorce, lighted all up. So he had 
really never known about her ! At this moment 
of utter sickness, she was saved from fainting by 
her sense of humour her cynicism. Not content 
to let her be, people's tongues had divorced her; 
he had believed them ! And the crown of irony 
was that he should want to marry her, when she 

152 



THE PATRICIAN 

felt so utterly, so sacredly his, to do what he 
liked with sans forms or ceremonies. A surge of 
bitter feeling against the man who stood be- 
tween her and Miltoun almost made her cry out. 
That man had captured her before she knew the 
world or her own soul, and she was tied to him, 
till by some beneficent chance he drew his last 
breath when her hair was grey, and her eyes 
had no love light, and her cheeks no longer grew 
pale when they were kissed; when twilight had 
fallen, and the flowers, and bees no longer cared 
for her. 

It was that feeling, the sudden revolt of the 
desperate prisoner, which steeled her to put out 
her hand, take up the paper, and give it to Mil- 
toun. 

When he had read the little paragraph, there 
followed one of those eternities which last per- 
haps two minutes. 

He said, then: 

'It's true, I suppose?' And, at her silence, 
added: 'I am sorry." 

This queer dry saying was so much more ter- 
rible than any outcry, that she remained, de- 
prived even of the power of breathing, with her 
eyes still fixed on Miltoun's face. 

The smile of the old Cardinal had come up 
there, and was to her like a living accusation. 

153 



THE PATRICIAN 

It seemed strange that the hum of the bees and 
flies and the gentle swishing of the lime-tree 
should still go on outside, insisting that there 
was a world moving and breathing apart from 
her, and careless of her misery. Then some of her 
courage came back, and with it her woman's 
mute power. It came haunting about her face, 
perfectly still, about her lips, sensitive and 
drawn, about her eyes, dark, almost mutinous 
under their arched brows. She stood, drawing 
him with silence and beauty. 

At last he spoke: 

'I have made a foolish mistake, it seems. I 
believed you were free." 

Her lips just moved for the words to pass : ' ' I 
thought you knew. I never dreamed you would 
want to marry me." 

It seemed to her natural that he should be 
thinking only of himself, but with the subtlest 
defensive instinct, she put forward her own 
tragedy : 

'I suppose I had got too used to knowing I 
was dead." 

'Is there no release?' 

'None. We have neither of us done wrong; 
besides with iim, marriage is for ever." 

"My God!" 

She had broken his smile, which had been cruel 

154 



THE PATRICIAN 

without meaning to be cruel; and with a smile of 
her own that was cruel too, she said: 

'I didn't know that you believed in release 
either." 

Then, as though she had stabbed herself in 
stabbing him, her face quivered. 

He looked at her now, conscious at last that 
she was suffering. And she felt that he was hold- 
ing himself in with all his might from taking her 
again into his arms. Seeing this, the warmth crept 
back to her lips, and a little light into her eyes, 
which she kept hidden from him. Though she 
stood so proudly still, some wistful force was 
coming from her, as from a magnet, and Mil- 
toun's hands and arms and face twitched as 
though palsied. This struggle, dumb and piti- 
ful, seemed never to be coming to an end in the 
little white room, darkened by the thatch of the 
verandah, and sweet with the scent of pinks and 
of a wood fire just lighted somewhere out at the 
back. Then, without a word, he turned and went 
out. She heard the wicket gate swing to. He was 
gone. 



155 




CHAPTER XVI 

ORD DENNIS was fly-fishing 
the weather just too bright to 
allow the little trout of that shal- 
low, never silent stream to ac- 
cept with avidity the small en- 
ticements which he threw in their direction. 
Nevertheless he continued to invite them, ex- 
ploring every nook of their watery pathway with 
his soft-swishing line. In a rough suit and bat- 
tered hat adorned with those artificial and other 
flies, which infest Harris tweed, he crept along 
among the hazel bushes and thorn-trees, per- 
fectly happy. Like an old spaniel, who has once 
gloried in the fetching of hares, rabbits, and all 
manner of fowl, and is now glad if you will but 
throw a stick for him, so one, who had been a 
famous fisher before the Lord, who had harried 
the waters of Scotland and Norway, Florida and 
Iceland, now pursued trout no bigger than sar- 
dines. The glamour of a thousand memories hal- 
lowed the hours he thus spent by that brown 
water. He fished unhasting, religious, like some 
good Catholic adding one more to the row of 

156 



THE PATRICIAN 

beads already told, as though he would fish him- 
self, gravely, without complaint, into the other 
world. With each fish caught he experienced a 
solemn satisfaction. 

Though he would have liked Barbara with him 
that morning, he had only looked at her once 
after breakfast in such a way that she could not 
see him, and with a dry smile gone off by himself. 
Down by the stream it was dappled, both cool 
and warm, windless ; the trees met over the river, 
and there were many stones, forming little basins 
which held up the ripple, so that the casting of a 
fly required much cunning. This long dingle ran 
for miles through the foot-growth of folding hills. 
It was beloved of jays; but of human beings there 
were none, except a chicken-farmer's widow, who 
lived in a house thatched almost to the ground, 
and made her livelihood by directing tourists, 
with such cunning that they soon came back to 
her for tea. 

It was while throwing a rather longer line than 
usual to reach a little dark piece of crisp water 
that Lord Dennis heard the swishing and crack- 
ling of someone advancing at full speed. He 
frowned slightly, feeling for the nerves of his 
fishes, whom he did not wish startled. The in- 
vader was Miltoun, hot, pale, dishevelled, with 
a queer, hunted look on his face. He stopped on 

157 



THE PATRICIAN 

seeing his great-uncle, and instantly assumed the 
mask of his smile. 

Lord Dennis was not the man to see what was 
not intended for him, and he merely said: 

'Well, Eustace!' as he might have spoken, 
meeting his nephew in the hall of one of his Lon- 
don Clubs. 

Miltoun, no less polite, murmured: 
'Hope I haven't lost you anything." 

Lord Dennis shook his head, and laying his rod 
on the bank, said: 

"Sit down and have a chat, old fellow. You 
don't fish, I think?" 

He had not, in the least, missed the suffering 
behind Miltoun's mask; his eyes were still good, 
and there was a little matter of some twenty 
years' suffering of his own on account of a 
woman ancient history now which had left 
him quaintly sensitive, for an old man, to signs 
of suffering in others. 

Miltoun would not have obeyed that invita- 
tion from anyone else, but there was something 
about Lord Dennis which people did not resist; 
his power lay in a dry ironic suavity which could 
not but persuade people that impoliteness was 
altogether too new and raw a thing to be indulged 
in. 

The two sat side by side on the roots of trees. 

158 



THE PATRICIAN 

At first they talked a little of birds, and then were 
dumb, so dumb that the invisible creatures of the 
woods consulted together audibly. Lord Dennis 
broke that silence. 

'This place," he said, f( always reminds me of 
Mark Twain's writings can't tell why, unless 
it's the evergreenness. I like the evergreen phi- 
losophers, Twain and Meredith. There's no sal- 
vation except through courage, though I never 
could stomach the 'strong man' captain of his 
soul, Henley and Nietzsche and that sort goes 
against the grain with me. What do you say, 
Eustace?" 

'They meant well," answered Miltoun, 'but 
they protested too much." 

Lord Dennis moved his head in assent. 

'To be captain of your soul !" continued Mil- 
toun in a bitter voice; "it's a pretty phrase !' 

'Pretty enough," murmured Lord Dennis. 
Miltoun looked at him. 

: 'And suitable to you," he said. 

'No, my dear," Lord Dennis answered dryly, 
'a long way off that, thank God !' : 

His eyes were fixed intently on the place where 
a large trout had risen in the stillest coffee-col- 
oured pool. He knew that fellow, a half-pounder 
at least, and his thoughts began flighting round 
the top of his head, hovering over the various 

159 



THE PATRICIAN 

merits of the flies. His fingers itched too, but he 
made no movement, and the ash-tree under 
which he sat let its leaves tremble, as though 
in sympathy. 

"See that hawk?" said Miltoun. 

At a height more than level with the tops of the 
hills a buzzard hawk was stationary in the blue 
directly over them. Inspired by curiosity at their 
stillness, he was looking down to see whether they 
were edible; the upcurved ends of his great wings 
flirted just once to show that he was part of the 
living glory of the air a symbol of freedom to 
men and fishes. 

Lord Dennis looked at his great-nephew. The 
boy for what else was thirty to seventy-six? 
was taking it hard, whatever it might be, taking 
it very hard! He was that sort ran till he 
dropped. The worst kind to help the sort that 
made for trouble that let things gnaw at them ! 
And there flashed before the old man's mind the 
image of Prometheus devoured by the eagle. It 
was his favourite tragedy, which he still read 
periodically, in the Greek, helping himself now 
and then out of his old lexicon to the meaning 
of some word which had flown to Erebus. Yes, 
Eustace was a fellow for the heights and depths ! 

He said quietly: 

"You don't care to talk about it, I suppose?' 

1 60 



THE PATRICIAN 

Miltoun shook his head, and again there was 
silence. 

The buzzard hawk having seen them move, 
quivered his wings like a moth's, and deserted 
that plane of air. A robin from the dappled 
warmth of a mossy stone, was regarding them 
instead. There was another splash in the pool. 

Lord Dennis said gently: 

"That fellow's risen twice; I believe he'd take 
a 'Wistman's treasure. 5 ' Extracting from his hat 
its latest fly, and binding it on, he began softly 
to swish his line. 

" I shall have him yet !" he muttered. But Mil- 
toun had stolen away. . . . 

The further piece of information about Mrs. 
Noel, already known by Barbara, and diffused 
by the Bucklandbury News, had not become com- 
mon knowledge at the Court till after Lord 
Dennis had started out to fish. In combination 
with the report that Miltoun had arrived and 
gone out without breakfast, it had been received 
with mingled feelings. Bertie, Harbinger, and 
Shropton, in a short conclave, after agreeing that 
from the point of view of the election it was per- 
haps better than if she had been a divorcee, were 
still inclined to the belief that no time was to be 
lost in doing what, however, they were unable 
to determine. Apart from the impossibility of 

161 



THE PATRICIAN 

knowing how a fellow like Miltoun would take 
the matter, they were faced with the devilish 
subtlety of all situations to which the proverb 
'Least said, soonest mended" applies. They were 
in the presence of that awe-inspiring thing, the 
power of scandal. Simple statements of simple 
facts, without moral drawn (to which no legal ex- 
ception could be taken) laid before the public as 
pieces of interesting information, or at the worst 
exposed in perfect good faith, lest the public 
should blindly elect as their representative one 
whose private life might not stand the inspection 
of daylight what could be more justifiable ! 
And yet Miltoun's supporters knew that this sim- 
ple statement of where he spent his evenings had 
a poisonous potency, through its power of stim- 
ulating that side of the human imagination the 
most easily excited. They recognised only too 
well, how strong was a certain primitive desire, 
especially in rural districts, by yielding to which 
the world was made to go, and how remarkably 
hard it was not to yield to it, and how interest- 
ing and exciting to see or hear of others yielding 
to it, and how (though here, of course, men 
might differ secretly) reprehensible of them to 
do so ! They recognised, too well, how a certain 
kind of conscience would appreciate this rumour; 
and how the puritans would lick their lengthened 

162 



THE PATRICIAN 

chops. They knew, too, how irresistible to people 
of any imagination at all, was the mere com- 
bination of a member of a class, traditionally sup- 
posed to be inclined to having what it wanted, 
with a lady who lived alone ! As Harbinger said : 
It was really devilish awkward ! For, to take any 
notice of it would be to make more people than 
ever believe it true. And yet, that it was working 
mischief, they felt by the secret voice in their 
own souls, telling them that they would have be- 
lieved it if they had not known better. They hung 
about, waiting for Miltoun to come in. 

The news was received by Lady Valleys with a 
sigh of intense relief, and the remark that it was 
probably another lie. When Barbara confirmed it, 
she only said: 'Poor Eustace!' and at once 
wrote off to her husband to say that " Anonyma' : 
was still married, so that the worst fortunately 
could not happen. 

Miltoun came in to lunch, but from his face 
and manner nothing could be guessed. He was a 
thought more talkative than usual, and spoke of 
Brabrook's speech some of which he had heard. 
He looked at Courtier meaningly, and after lunch 
said to him: 

'Will you come round to my den?' 

In that room, the old withdrawing-room of the 
Elizabethan wing where once had been the em- 



THE PATRICIAN 

broideries, tapestries, and missals of beruffled 
dames were now books, pamphlets, oak-panels, 
pipes, fencing gear, and along one wall a collec- 
tion of Red Indian weapons and ornaments 
brought back by Miltoun from the United States. 
High on the wall above these reigned the bronze 
death-mask of a famous Apache Chief, cast from 
a plaster taken of the face by a professor of Yale 
College, who had declared it to be a perfect 
specimen of the vanishing race. That visage, 
which had a certain weird resemblance to 
Dante's, presided over the room with cruel, 
tragic stoicism. No one could look on it without 
feeling that, there, the human will had been 
pushed to its farthest limits of endurance. 

Seeing it for the first time, Courtier said: 
* Fine thing that ! Only wants a soul." 

Miltoun nodded. 
'Sit down, 53 he said. 

Courtier sat down. 

There followed one of those silences in which 
men whose spirits, though different, have a cer- 
tain bigness in common can say so much to one 
another. 

At last Miltoun spoke: 

'I have been living in the clouds, it seems. 
You are her oldest friend. The immediate ques- 
tion is how to make it easiest for her in face of 
this miserable rumour!' 

164 



THE PATRICIAN 

Not even Courtier himself could have put such 
whip-lash sting into the word 'miserable." 

He answered: 

'Oh ! take no notice of that. Let them stew in 
their own juice. She won't care.' 5 

Miltoun listened, not moving a muscle of his 
face. 

"Your friends here," went on Courtier with a 
touch of contempt, "seem in a flutter. Don't let 
them do anything, don't let them say a word. 
Treat the thing as it deserves to be treated. It'll 
die." 

Miltoun, however, smiled. 

"I'm not sure," he said, "that the conse- 
quences will be what you think, but I shall do 
as you say." 

"As for your candidature, any man with a 
spark of generosity in his soul will rally to you 
because of it." 

"Possibly," said Miltoun. "It will lose me the 
election, for all that." 

Then, dimly conscious that their last words 
had revealed the difference of their tempera- 
ments and creeds, they stared at one another. 

"No," said Courtier, "I never believe people 
can be mean ' ! 



* Until they are." 
"Well ! though we get at it in different ways, 



we agree." 



165 



THE PATRICIAN 

Miltoun leaned his elbow on the mantelpiece, 
and shading his face with his hand, said: 

'You know her story. Is there any way out of 
that, for her?" 

On Courtier's face was the look which so often 
came when he was speaking for one of his lost 
causes as if the fumes from a fire in his heart 
had mounted to his head. 

:< OnIy the way," he answered calmly, "that I 
should take if I were you." 

"And that?" 

'The law into your own hands.' 1 

Miltoun unshaded his face. His gaze seemed 
to have to travel from an immense distance be- 
fore it reached Courtier. He answered: 

"Yes, I thought you would say that." 



1 66 



CHAPTER XVII 




everything, that night, was 
quiet, Barbara, her hair hanging 
loose outside her dressing gown, 
slipped from her room into the 
dim corridor. With bare feet 
thrust into fur-crowned slippers which made no 
noise, she stole along looking at door after door. 
Through a long Gothic window, uncurtained, the 
mild moonlight was coming. She stopped just 
where that moonlight fell, and tapped. There 
came no answer. She opened the door a little way, 
and said: 

:< Are you asleep, Eusty?' 
There still came no answer, and she went in. 
The curtains were drawn, but a chink of moon- 
light peering through fell on the bed. This was 
empty. Barbara stood uncertain, listening. In the 
heart of that darkness there seemed to be, not 
sound, but, as it were, the muffled soul of sound, 
a sort of strange vibration, like that of a flame 
noiselessly licking the air. She put her hand to 
her heart, which beat as though it would leap 
through the thin silk covering. From what corner 
of the room was that mute tremor coming? 

167 



THE PATRICIAN 

Stealing to the window, she parted the curtains, 
and stared back into the shadows. There, on the 
far side, lying on the floor with his arms pressed 
tightly round his head and his face to the wall, 
was Miltoun. Barbara let fall the curtains, and 
stood breathless, with such a queer sensation in 
her breast as she had never felt; a sense of some- 
thing outraged of scarred pride. It was gone at 
once, in a rush of pity. She stepped forward 
quickly in the darkness, was visited by fear, and 
stopped. He had seemed absolutely himself all 
the evening. A little more talkative, perhaps, a 
little more caustic than usual. And now to find 
him like this ! There was no great share of rever- 
ence in Barbara, but what little she possessed 
had always been kept for her eldest brother. He 
had impressed her, from a child, with his aloof- 
ness, and she had been proud of kissing him be- 
cause he never seemed to let anybody else do so. 
Those caresses, no doubt, had the savour of con- 
quest; his face had been the undiscovered land 
for her lips. She loved him as one loves that 
which ministers to one's pride; had for him, too, 
a touch of motherly protection, as for a doll that 
does not get on too well with the other dolls; and 
withal a little unaccustomed awe. 

Dared she now plunge in on this private 
agony ? Could she have borne that anyone should 

1 68 



THE PATRICIAN 

see herself thus prostrate? He had not heard her, 
and she tried to regain the door. But a board 
creaked; she heard him move, and flinging away 
her fears, said: "It's me ! Babs !" and dropped on 
her knees beside him. If it had not been so pitch 
dark she could never have done that. She tried 
at once to take his head into her arms, but could 
not see it, and succeeded indifferently. She could 
but stroke his arm continually, wondering 
whether he would hate her ever afterwards, and 
blessing the darkness, which made it all seem as 
though it were not happening, yet so much more 
poignant than if it had happened. Suddenly she 
felt him slip away from her, and getting up, stole 
out. After the darkness of that room, the corri- 
dor seemed full of grey filmy light, as though 
dream-spiders had joined the walls with their 
cobwebs, in which innumerable white moths, so 
tiny that they could not be seen, were struggling. 
Small eerie noises crept about. A sudden fright- 
ened longing for warmth, and light, and colour 
came to Barbara. She fled back to her room. But 
she could not sleep. That strange mute unseen 
vibration in the unlighted room like the noise- 
less licking of a flame at the air; the touch of 
Miltoun's hand, fiery hot against her cheek and 
neck; the whole tremulous dark episode, pos- 
sessed her through and through. Thus had the 

169 



THE PATRICIAN 

wayward force of Love chosen to manifest itself 
to her in all its wistful violence. At this first sight 
of the red flower of passion her cheeks burned; 
up and down her, between the cool sheets, little 
hot cruel shivers ran; she lay, wide-eyed, staring 
at the ceiling. She thought of the woman whom 
he so loved, and wondered if she too were lying 
sleepless, flung down on a bare floor, trying to 
cool her forehead and lips against a cold wall. 

Not for hours did she fall asleep, and then 
dreamed of running desperately through fields 
full of tall spiky asphodel-like flowers, and be- 
hind her was running herself. 

In the morning she dreaded to go down. Could 
she meet Miltoun now that she knew of the pas- 
sion in him, and he knew that she knew it? She 
had her breakfast brought upstairs. Before she 
had finished Miltoun himself came in. He looked 
more than usually self-contained, not to say 
ironic, and only remarked: 'If you're going to 
ride you might take this note for me over to old 
Haliday at Wippincott." By his coming she knew 
that he was saying all he ever meant to say about 
that dark incident. And sympathising completely 
with a reticence which she herself felt to be the 
only possible way out for both of them, Barbara 
looked at him gratefully, took the note and said : 
"All right!" 

170 



THE PATRICIAN 

Then, after glancing once or twice round the 
room, Miltoun went away. 

He left her restless, divested of the cloak 'of 
course," in a strange mood of questioning, ready 
as it were for the sight of the magpie wings of 
Life, and to hear their quick flutterings. Talk 
jarred on her that morning, with its sameness 
and attachment to the facts of the present and 
the future, its essential concern with the world 
as it was she avoided all companionship on her 
ride. She wanted to be told of things that were 
not, yet might be, to peep behind the curtain, 
and see the very spirit of mortal happenings es- 
caped from prison. And this was all so unusual 
with Barbara, whose body was too perfect, too 
sanely governed by the flow of her blood not to 
revel in the moment and the things thereof. She 
knew it was unusual. After her ride she avoided 
lunch, and walked out into the lanes. But about 
two o'clock, feeling very hungry, she went into 
a farmhouse, and asked for milk. There, in the 
kitchen, like young jackdaws in a row with their 
mouths a little open, were the three farm boys, 
seated on a bench gripped to the alcove of the 
great fire-way, munching bread and cheese. 
Above their heads a gun was hung, trigger up- 
wards, and two hams were mellowing in the 
smoke. At the feet of a black-haired girl, who was 

171 



THE PATRICIAN 

slicing onions, lay a sheep dog of tremendous age, 
with nose stretched out on paws, and in his little 
blue eyes a gleam of approaching immortality. 
They all stared at Barbara. And one of the boys, 
whose face had the delightful look of him who 
loses all sense of other things in what he is seeing 
at the moment, smiled, and continued smiling, 
with sheer pleasure. Barbara drank her milk, and 
wandered out again; passing through a gate at 
the bottom of a steep, rocky tor, she sat down 
on a sunwarmed stone. The sunlight fell greedily 
on her here, like an invisible swift hand touching 
her all over, and specially caressing her throat 
and face. A very gentle wind, which dived over 
the tor tops into the young fern, stole down at 
her, spiced with the fern sap. AH was warmth 
and peace, and only the cuckoos on the far thorn 
trees as though stationed by the Wistful Mas- 
ter himself were there to disturb her heart. But 
all the sweetness and piping of the day did not 
soothe her. In truth, she could not have said 
what was the matter, except that she felt so dis- 
contented, and, as it were, empty of all but a sort 
of aching impatience with what exactly she 
could not say. She had that rather dreadful feel- 
ing of something slipping by which she could not 
catch. It was so new to her to feel like that for 
no girl was less given to moods and repinings. 

172 



THE PATRICIAN 

And all the time a sort of contempt for this soft 
and almost sentimental feeling made her tighten 
her lips and frown. She felt distrustful and sar- 
castic towards a mood so subversive of that fetich 
"Hardness," to the unconscious worship of which 
she had been brought up. To stand no sentiment 
or nonsense either in herself or others was the 
first article of faith; not to slop-over anywhere. 
So that to feel as she did was almost horrible to 
Barbara. Yet she could not get rid of the sensa- 
tion. With sudden recklessness she tried giving 
herself up to it entirely. Undoing the scarf at her 
throat, she let the air play on her bared neck, and 
stretched out her arms as if to hug the wind to 
her; then, with a sigh, she got up, and walked 
on. And now she began thinking of "Anonyma"; 
turning her position over and over. The idea that 
anyone young and beautiful should thus be 
clipped off in her life, roused her impatient in- 
dignation. Let them try it with her ! They would 
soon see ! For all her cultivated "hardness," Bar- 
bara really hated anything to suffer. It seemed to 
her unnatural. She never went to that hospital 
where Lady Valleys had a ward, nor to their 
summer camp for crippled children, nor to help 
in their annual concert for sweated workers, 
without a feeling of such vehement pity that it 
was like being seized by the throat. Once, when 

173 



THE PATRICIAN 

she had been singing to them, the rows of wan, 
pinched faces below had been too much for her; 
she had broken down, forgotten her words, lost 
memory of the tune, and just ended her per- 
formance with a smile, worth more perhaps to 
her audience than those lost verses. She never 
came away from such sights and places without 
a feeling of revolt amounting almost to rage; and 
she only continued to go because she dimly knew 
that it was expected of her not to turn her back 
on such things, in her section of Society. 

But it was not this feeling which made her 
stop before Mrs. Noel's cottage; nor was it 
curiosity. It was a quite simple desire to squeeze 
her hand. 

: 'Anonyma" seemed taking her trouble as only 
those women who are no good at self-assertion 
can take things doing exactly as she would have 
done if nothing had happened; a little paler than 
usual, with lips pressed rather tightly together. 

They neither of them spoke at first, but stood 
looking, not at each other's faces, but at each 
other's breasts. At last Barbara stepped forward 
impulsively and kissed her. 

After that, like two children who kiss first and 
then make acquaintance, they stood apart, silent, 
faintly smiling. It had been given and returned 
in real sweetness and comradeship, that kiss, for 

174 



THE PATRICIAN 

a sign of womanhood making face against the 
world; but now that it was over, both felt a little 
awkward. Would that kiss have been given if 
Fate had been auspicious? Was it not proof of 
misery? So Mrs. NoePs smile seemed saying, and 
Barbara's smile unwillingly admitting. Perceiv- 
ing that if they talked it could only be about the 
most ordinary things, they began speaking of 
music, flowers, and the queerness of bees' legs. 
But all the time, Barbara, though seemingly un- 
conscious, was noting with her smiling eyes, the 
tiny movements, by which one woman can tell 
what is passing in another. She saw a little quiver 
tighten the corner of the lips, the eyes suddenly 
grow large and dark, the thin blouse desperately 
rise and fall. And her fancy, quickened by last 
night's memory, saw this woman giving herself 
up to the memory of love in her thoughts. At this 
sight she felt a little of that impatience which the 
conquering feel for the passive, and perhaps just 
a touch of jealousy. 

Whatever Miltoun decided, that would this 
woman accept ! Such resignation, while it simpli- 
fied things, offended the part of Barbara which 
rebelled against all inaction, all dictation, even 
from her favourite brother. She said suddenly: 

"Are you going to do nothing? Aren't you 
going to try and free yourself? If I were in your 

175 



THE PATRICIAN 

position, I would never rest till I'd made them 
free me." 

But Mrs. Noel did not answer; and sweeping 
her glance from that crown of soft dark hair, 
down the soft white figure, to the very feet, Bar- 
bara cried: 

'I believe you are a fatalist." 

Soon after that, not knowing what more to say, 
she went away. But walking home across the 
fields, where full summer was swinging on the 
delicious air, and there was now no bull but only 
red cows to crop short the 'milk-maids' and 
buttercups, she suffered from this strange revela- 
tion of the strength of softness and passivity as 
though she had seen in the white figure of 
:< Anonyma," and heard in her voice, something 
from beyond, symbolic, inconceivable, yet real. 



176 




CHAPTER XVIII 

:ORD VALLEYS, relieved from 
official pressure by subsidence of 
the war scare, had returned for a 
long week-end. To say that he had 
been intensely relieved by the 
news that Mrs. Noel was not free, would be to 
put it mildly. Though not old-fashioned, like his 
mother-in-law, in regard to the mixing of the 
castes, prepared to admit that exclusiveness was 
out of date, to pass over with a shrug and a laugh 
those numerous alliances by which his order were 
renewing the sinews of war, and indeed in his 
capacity of an expert, often pointing out the 
dangers of too much in-breeding yet he had a 
peculiar personal feeling about his own family, 
and was perhaps a little extra sensitive because 
of Agatha; for Shropton, though a good fellow, 
and extremely wealthy, was only a third baronet, 
and had originally been made of iron. It was in- 
advisable to go outside the inner circle where 
there was no material necessity for so doing. He 
had not done it himself. Moreover there was a 
sentiment about these things ! 

177 



THE PATRICIAN 

On the morning after his arrival, visiting the 
kennels before breakfast, he stood chatting with 
his head man, and caressing the wet noses of his 
two favourite pointers, with something of the 
feeling of a boy let out of school. Those pleasant 
creatures, cowering and quivering with pride 
against his legs and turning up at him their yel- 
low Chinese eyes, gave him that sense of warmth 
and comfort which visits men in the presence of 
their hobbies. With this particular pair, inbred 
to the uttermost, he had successfully surmounted 
a great risk. It was now touch and go whether he 
dared venture on one more cross to the original 
strain, in the hope of eliminating the last clinging 
of liver colour. It was a gamble and it was just 
that which rendered it so vastly interesting. 

A small voice diverted his attention; he looked 
round and saw little Ann. She had been in bed 
when he arrived the night before, and he was 
therefore the newest thing about. 

She carried in her arms a guinea-pig and be- 
gan at once: 

:< Grandpapa, Granny wants you. She's on the 
terrace; she's talking to Mr. Courtier. I like him 
he's a kind man. If I put my guinea-pig down, 
will they bite it? Poor darling they shan't! 
Isn't it a darling!' 

Lord Valleys, twirling his moustache, regarded 



THE PATRICIAN 

the guinea-pig without favour; he had rather a 
dislike for all senseless kinds of beasts. 

Pressing the guinea-pig between her hands, as 
it might be a concertina, little Ann jigged it 
gently above the pointers, who, wrinkling hor- 
ribly their long noses, gazed upwards, fascinated. 

'Poor darlings, they want it don't they? 
Grandpapa!' 

"Yes." 

'Do you think the next puppies will be spotted 
quite all over?' 

Continuing to twirl his moustache, Lord Val- 
leys answered: 

'I think it is not improbable, Ann." 

'Why do you like them spotted like that? 
Oh! they're kissing Sambo I must go!' 

Lord Valleys followed her, his eyebrows a little 
raised. 

As he approached the terrace his wife came 
towards him. Her colour was deeper than usual, 
and she had the look, higher and more resolute, 
special to her when she had been opposed. In 
truth she had just been through a passage of 
arms with Courtier, who, as the first revealer of 
Mrs. Noel's situation, had become entitled to a 
certain confidence on this subject. It had arisen 
from what she had intended as a perfectly natural 
and not unkind remark, to the effect that all the 

179 



THE PATRICIAN 

trouble had come from Mrs. Noel not having 
made her position clear to Miltoun from the first. 
He had at once grown very red. 
'It's easy, Lady Valleys, for those who have 
never been in the position of a lonely woman, to 
blame her." 

Unaccustomed to be withstood, she had looked 
at him intently: 

' I am the last person to be hard on a woman 
for conventional reasons. But I think it showed 
lack of character." 

Courtier's reply had been almost rude. 
'Plants are not equally robust, Lady Valleys. 
Some, as we know, are actually sensitive." 
She had retorted with decision: 
'If you like to so dignify the simpler word 
'weak.' 

He had become very rigid at that, biting 
deeply into his moustache. 

'What crimes are not committed under the 
sanctity of that creed 'survival of the fittest,' 
which suits the book of all you fortunate people 
so well!" 

Priding herself on her restraint, Lady Valleys 
answered : 

'Ah! we must talk that out. On the face of 
them, your words sound a little unphilosophic, 
don't they?" 

1 80 



THE PATRICIAN 

He had looked straight at her with a queer, 
unpleasant smile; and she had felt at once dis- 
turbed and angry. It was all very well to pet and 
even to admire these original sort of men, but 
there were limits. Remembering, however, that 
he was her guest, she had only said: 

'Perhaps after all we had better not talk it 
out;" and moving away, she heard him answer: 
'In any case, I'm certain Audrey Noel never wil- 
fully kept your son in the dark; she's much too 
proud." 

Though ruffled, she could not help liking the 
way he stuck up for this woman; and she threw 
back at him the words: 

'You and I, Mr. Courtier, must have a good 
fight some day!' 

She went towards her husband conscious of 
the rather pleasurable sensation which combat 
always roused in her. 

These two were very good comrades. Theirs 
had been a love match, and making due allow- 
ance for human nature beset by opportunity, had 
remained, throughout, a solid and efficient alli- 
ance. Taking, as they both did, such prominent 
parts in public and social matters, the time they 
spent together was limited, but productive of 
mutual benefit and reinforcement. They had not 
yet had an opportunity of discussing their son's 

181 



THE PATRICIAN 

affair; and, slipping her hand through his arm, 
Lady Valleys drew him away from the house. 

'I want to talk to you about Miltoun, 
Geoff." 

"H'm!" said Lord Valleys; "yes. The boy's 
looking worn. Good thing when this election's 



over.' 



' If he's beaten and hasn't something new and 
serious to concentrate himself on, he'll fret his 
heart out over that woman." 

Lord Valleys meditated a little before reply- 
ing. 

"I don't think that, Gertrude. He's got plenty 
of spirit." 

'Of course! But it's a real passion. And, you 
know, he's not like most boys, who'll take what 
they can." 

She said this rather wistfully. 

'I'm sorry for the woman," mused Lord Val- 
leys; 'I really am." 

'They say this rumour's done a lot of harm." 

'Our influence is strong enough to survive 
that." 

'It'll be a squeak; I wish I knew what he was 
going to do. Will you ask him?' 

: You're clearly the person to speak to him," 
replied Lord Valleys. 'I'm no hand at that sort 
of thing." 

182 



THE PATRICIAN 

But Lady Valleys, with genuine discomfort, 
murmured : 

'My dear, I'm so nervous with Eustace. When 
he puts on that smile of his I'm done for, at 



once.' 



'This is obviously a woman's business; no- 
body like a mother." 

'If it were only one of the others," muttered 
Lady Valleys: 'Eustace has that queer way of 
making you feel lumpy." 

Lord Valleys looked at her askance. He had 
that kind of critical fastidiousness which a word 
will rouse into activity. Was she lumpy? The idea 
had never struck him. 

"Well, I'll do it, if I must," sighed Lady Val- 
leys. 

When after breakfast she entered Miltoun's 
'den," he was buckling on his spurs preparatory 
to riding out to some of the remoter villages. 
Under the mask of the Apache chief, Bertie was 
standing, more inscrutable and neat than ever, 
in a perfectly tied cravatte, perfectly cut riding 
breeches, and boots worn and polished till a 
sooty glow shone through their natural russet. 
Not specially dandified in his usual dress, Bertie 
Caradoc would almost sooner have died than dis- 
grace a horse. His eyes, the sharper because they 
had only half the space of the ordinary eye to 

183 



THE PATRICIAN 

glance from, at once took in the fact that his 
mother wished to be alone with 'old Miltoun," 
and he discreetly left the room. 

That which disconcerted all who had dealings 
with Miltoun was the discovery made soon or 
late, that they could not be sure how anything 
would strike him. In his mind, as in his face, 
there was a certain regularity, and then impos- 
sible to say exactly where it would shoot off 
and twist round a corner. This was the legacy no 
doubt of the hard-bitten individuality, which had 
brought to the front so many of his ancestors ; for 
in Miltoun was the blood not only of the Cara- 
docs and FitzHaroIds, but of most other promi- 
nent families in the kingdom, all of whom, in 
those ages before money made the man, must 
have had a forbear conspicuous by reason of 
qualities, not always fine, but always poignant. 

And now, though Lady Valleys had the au- 
dacity of her physique, and was not customarily 
abashed, she began by speaking of politics, hop- 
ing her son would give her an opening. But he 
gave her none, and she grew nervous. At last, 
summoning all her coolness, she said: 

Tin dreadfully sorry about this affair, dear 
boy. Your father told me of your talk with him. 
Try not to take it too hard." 

Miltoun did not answer, and silence being that 

184 



THE PATRICIAN 

which Lady Valleys habitually most dreaded, she 
took refuge in further speech, outlining for her 
son the whole episode as she saw it from her point 
of view, and ending with these words : 
'Surely it's not worth it." 

Miltoun heard her with his peculiar look, as of 
a man peering through a vizor. Then smiling, he 
said: 

c Thank you;' and opened the door. 

Lady Valleys, without quite knowing whether 
he intended her to do so, indeed without quite 
knowing anything at the moment, passed out, 
and Miltoun closed the door behind her. 

Ten minutes later he and Bertie were seen rid- 
ing down the drive. 



185 




CHAPTER XIX 

[HAT afternoon the wind, which 
had been rising steadily, brought 
a flurry of clouds up from the 
South- West. Formed out on the 
heart of the Atlantic, they sailed 
forward, swift and fleecy at first, like the skir- 
mishing white shallops of a great fleet; then, in 
serried masses, darkened the sun. About four 
o'clock they broke in rain, which the wind drove 
horizontally with a cold whiffling murmur. As 
youth and glamour die in a face before the cold 
rains of life, so glory died on the moor. The tors, 
from being uplifted wild castles, became mere 
grey excrescences. Distance failed. The cuckoos 
were silent. There was none of the beauty that 
there is in death, no tragic greatness all was 
moaning and monotony. But about seven the sun 
tore its way back through the swathe, and flared 
out. Like some huge star, whose rays were stretch- 
ing down to the horizon, and up to the very top 
of the hill of air, it shone with an amazing murky 
glamour; the clouds splintered by its shafts, and 
tinged saffron, piled themselves up as if in won- 
der. Under the sultry warmth of this new great 

1 86 



THE PATRICIAN 

star, the heather began to steam a little, and the 
glitter of its wet unopened bells was like that of 
innumerable tiny smoking fires. The two brothers 
were drenched as they cantered silently home. 
Good friends always, they had never much to say 
to one another. For Miltoun was conscious that 
he thought on a different plane from Bertie; and 
Bertie grudged even to his brother any inkling 
of what was passing in his spirit, just as he 
grudged parting with diplomatic knowledge, or 
stable secrets, or indeed anything that might 
leave him less in command of life. He grudged it, 
because in a private sort of way it lowered his 
estimation of his own stoical self-sufficiency; it 
hurt something proud in the withdrawing-room 
of his soul. But though he talked little, he had the 
power of contemplation often found in men of 
decided character, with a tendency to liver. 
Once in Nepal, where he had gone to shoot, he 
had passed a month quite happily with only a 
Ghoorka servant who could speak no English. 
To those who asked him if he had not been hor- 
ribly bored, he had always answered: "Not a bit; 
did a lot of thinking." 

With Miltoun's trouble he had the professional 
sympathy of a brother and the natural intoler- 
ance of a confirmed bachelor. Women were to 
him very kittle-cattle. He distrusted from the 

187 



THE PATRICIAN 

bottom of his soul those who had such manifest 
power to draw things from you. He was one of 
those men in whom some day a woman might 
awaken a really fine affection; but who, until that 
time, would maintain the perfectly male attitude 
to the entire sex, and, after it, to all the sex but 
one. Women were, like Life itself, creatures to 
be watched, carefully used, and kept duly sub- 
servient. The only allusion therefore that he 
made to Miltoun's trouble was very sudden. 

"Old man, I hope you're going to cut your 
losses." 

The words were followed by undisturbed 
silence. But passing Mrs. NoePs cottage Miltoun 
said : 

Take my horse on; I want to go in here." . . . 

She was sitting at her piano with her hands 
idle, looking at a line of music. She had been sit- 
ting thus for many minutes, but had not yet 
taken in the notes. 

When Miltoun's shadow blotted the light by 
which she was seeing so little, she gave a slight 
start, and got up. But she neither went towards 
him, nor spoke. And he, without a word, came 
in and stood by the hearth, looking down at the 
empty grate. A tortoise-shell cat which had been 
watching swallows, disturbed by his entrance, 
withdrew from the window beneath a chair. 

1 88 



THE PATRICIAN 

This silence, in which the question of their 
future lives was to be decided, seemed to both 
interminable; yet, neither could end it. 

At last, touching his sleeve, she said : ' : You're 
wet!" 

Miltoun shivered at that timid sign of posses- 
sion. And they again stood in silence broken only 
by the sound of the cat licking its paws. 

But her faculty for dumbness was stronger 
than his, and he had to speak first. 

"Forgive me for coming; something must be 
settled. This rumour ' 

"Oh ! that !" she said. " Is there anything I can 
do to stop the harm to you?' 

It was the turn of Miltoun's lips to curl. "God ! 
no; let them talk!' 

Their eyes had come together now, and, once 
together, seemed unable to part. 

Mrs. Noel said at last: 

'Will you ever forgive me?' 

"What for it was my fault." 

"No, I should have known you better." 

The depth of meaning in those words the tre- 
mendous and subtle admission they contained of 
all that she had been ready to do, the despairing 
knowledge in them that he was not, and never 
had been, ready to ' ' bear it out even to the edge 
of doom" made Miltoun wince away. 

189 



THE PATRICIAN 

'It is not from fear believe that, anyway/ 3 

"I do." 

There followed another long, long silence. But 
though so close that they were almost touching, 
they no longer looked at one another. Then Mil- 
toun said: 

'There is only to say good-bye, then/ 5 

At those clear words spoken by lips which, 
though just smiling, failed so utterly to hide his 
misery, Mrs. Noel's face became colourless as her 
white gown. But her eyes, which had darkened, 
seemed, from the sheer lack of all other colour, 
to have drawn into them the whole of her vital- 
ity; to be pouring forth a proud and mournful 
reproach. 

Shivering, and crushing himself together with 
his arms, Miltoun walked towards the window. 
There was not the faintest sound from her, and 
he looked back. She was following him with her 
gaze. He threw his hand up over his face, and 
went quickly out. Mrs. Noel stood for a little 
while where he had left her; then, sitting down 
once more at the piano, began again to con over 
the line of music. And the cat stole back to the 
window to watch the swallows. The sunlight was 
dying slowly on the top branches of the lime- 
tree; a drizzling rain began to fall. 



190 




CHAPTER XX 

LAUD FRESNAY, Viscount Har- 
binger, was, at the age of thirty- 
one, perhaps the least encum- 
bered peer in the United King- 
dom. Thanks to an ancestor who 
had acquired land, and departed this life one 
hundred and thirty years before the town of 
Nettlefold was built on a small portion of it, and 
to a father who had died in his son's infancy, 
after judiciously selling the said town, he pos- 
sessed a very large income independently of his 
landed interests. Tall and well-built, with hand- 
some, strongly-marked features, he gave at first 
sight an impression of strength which faded 
somewhat when he began to talk. It was not so 
much the manner of his speech with its rapid 
slang, and its way of turning everything to a 
jest as the feeling it produced, that the brain 
behind it took naturally the path of least resis- 
tance. He was in fact one of those personalities 
who are often enough prominent in politics and 
social life, by reason of their appearance, posi- 
tion, assurance, and of a certain energy, half 
genuine, and half mere inherent predilection for 

191 



THE PATRICIAN 

short cuts. Certainly he was not idle, had written 
a book, travelled, was a Captain of Yeomanry, a 
Justice of the Peace, a good cricketer, and a con- 
stant and glib speaker. It would have been unfair 
to call his enthusiasm for social reform spurious. 
It was real enough in its way, and did certainly 
testify that he was not altogether lacking either 
in imagination or good-heartedness. But it was 
over and overlaid with the public-school habit 
that peculiar, extraordinarily English habit, so 
powerful and beguiling that it becomes a second 
nature stronger than the first of relating every- 
thing in the Universe to the standards and preju- 
dices of a single class. Since practically all his 
intimate associates were immersed in it, he was 
naturally not in the least conscious of this habit; 
indeed there was nothing he deprecated so much 
in politics as the narrow and prejudiced outlook, 
such as he had observed in the Nonconformist, 
or labour politician. He would never have ad- 
mitted for a moment that certain doors had been 
banged-to at his birth, bolted when he went to 
Eton, and padlocked at Cambridge. No one 
would have denied that there was much that was 
valuable in his standards a high level of hon- 
esty, candour, sportsmanship, personal cleanli- 
ness, and self-reliance, together with a dislike 
of such cruelty as had been officially (so to speak) 

192 



THE PATRICIAN 

recognized as cruelty, and a sense of public ser- 
vice to a State run by and for the public schools; 
but it would have required far more originality 
than he possessed ever to look at Life from any 
other point of view than that from which he had 
been born and bred to watch Her. To fully un- 
derstand Harbinger, one must, and with un- 
prejudiced eyes and brain, have attended one of 
those great cricket matches in which he had 
figured conspicuously as a boy, and looking down 
from some high impartial spot have watched the 
ground at lunch time covered from rope to rope 
and stand to stand with a marvellous swarm, all 
walking in precisely the same manner, with pre- 
cisely the same expression on their faces, under 
precisely the same hats a swarm enshrining the 
greatest identity of creed and habit ever known 
since the world began. No, his environment had 
not been favourable to originality. Moreover he 
was naturally rapid rather than deep, and life 
hardly ever left him alone or left him silent. 
Brought into contact day and night with people 
to whom politics were more or less a game; run 
after everywhere; subjected to no form of dis- 
cipline it was a wonder that he was so serious as 
he was. Nor had he ever been in love, until, last 
year, during her first season, Barbara had, as he 
might have expressed it in the case of another 

193 



THE PATRICIAN 

"bowled him middle stump." Though so 
deeply smitten, he had not yet asked her to 
marry him had not, as it were, had time, nor 
perhaps quite the courage, or conviction. When 
he was near her, it seemed impossible that he 
could go on longer without knowing his fate; 
when he was away from her it was almost a re- 
lief, because there were so many things to be 
done and said, and so little time to do or say 
them in. But now, during this fortnight, which, 
for her sake, he had devoted to Miltoun's cause, 
his feeling had advanced beyond the point of 
comfort. 

He did not admit that the reason of this un- 
easiness was Courtier, for, after all, Courtier was, 
in a sense, nobody, and <:< an extremist" into the 
bargain, and an extremist always affected the 
centre of Harbinger's anatomy, causing it to give 
off a peculiar smile and tone of voice. Neverthe- 
less, his eyes, whenever they fell on that san- 
guine, steady, ironic face, shone with a sort of 
cold inquiry, or were even darkened by the shade 
of fear. They met seldom, it is true, for most of 
his day was spent in motoring and speaking, and 
most of Courtier's in writing and riding, his leg 
being still too weak for walking. But once or 
twice in the smoking room late at night, he had 
embarked on some bantering discussion with the 

194 



THE PATRICIAN 

champion of lost causes; and very soon an ill- 
concealed impatience had crept into his voice. 
Why a man should waste his time, flogging dead 
horses on a journey to the moon, was incom- 
prehensible! Facts were facts, human nature 
would never be anything but human nature ! 
And it was peculiarly galling to see in Courtier's 
eye a gleam, to catch in his voice a tone, as if 
he were thinking: 'My young friend, your soup 
is cold ! ' 

On a morning after one of these encounters, 
seeing Barbara sally forth in riding clothes, he 
asked if he too might go round the stables, and 
started forth beside her, unwontedly silent, with 
an odd feeling about his heart, and his throat 
unaccountably dry. 

The stables at Monkland Court were as large 
as many country houses. Accommodating thirty 
horses, they were at present occupied by twenty- 
one, including the pony of little Ann. For height, 
perfection of lighting, gloss, shine, and purity of 
atmosphere they were unequalled in the county. 
It seemed indeed impossible that any horse could 
ever so far forget himself in such a place as to 
remember that he was a horse. Every morning a 
little bin of carrots, apples, and lumps of sugar, 
was set close to the main entrance, ready for those 
who might desire to feed the dear inhabitants. 

195 



THE PATRICIAN 

Reined up to a brass ring on either side of 
their stalls with their noses towards the doors, 
they were always on view from nine to ten, and 
would stand with their necks arched, ears pricked 
and coats gleaming, wondering about things, 
soothed by the faint hissing of the still busy 
grooms, and ready to move their noses up and 
down the moment they saw someone enter. 

In a large loose-box at the end of the north 
wing Barbara's favourite chestnut hunter, all but 
one saving sixteenth of whom had been entered 
in the stud book, having heard her footstep, was 
standing quite still with his neck turned. He had 
been crumping up an apple placed amongst his 
feed, and his senses struggled between the linger- 
ing flavour of that delicacy, and the perception 
of a sound with which he connected carrots. 
When she unlatched his door, and said 'Hal," 
he at once went towards his manger, to show his 
independence, but when she said: 'Oh! very 
well I 9 he turned round and came towards her. 
His eyes, which were full and of a soft brilliance, 
under thick chestnut lashes, explored her all over. 
Perceiving that her carrots were not in front, he 
elongated his neck, let his nose stray round her 
waist, and gave her gauntletted hand a nip with 
his lips. Not tasting carrot, he withdrew his nose, 
and snuffled. Then stepping carefully so as not 

196 



THE PATRICIAN 

to tread on her foot, he bunted her gently with 
his shoulder, till with a quick manoeuvre he got 
behind her and breathed low and long on her 
neck. Even this did not smell of carrots, and put- 
ting his muzzle over her shoulder against her 
cheek, he slobbered a very little. A carrot ap- 
peared about the level of her waist, and hanging 
his head over, he tried to reach it. Feeling it all 
firm and soft under his chin, he snuffled again, 
and gave her a gentle dig with his knee. But still 
unable to reach the carrot, he threw his head up, 
withdrew, and pretended not to see her. And sud- 
denly he felt two long substances round his neck, 
and something soft against his nose. He suffered 
this in silence, laying his ears back. The softness 
began puffing on his muzzle. Pricking his ears 
again, he puffed back a little harder, with more 
curiosity, and the softness was withdrawn. He 
perceived suddenly that he had a carrot in his 
mouth. 

Harbinger had witnessed this episode, oddly 
pale, leaning against the loose-box wall. He 
spoke, as it came to an end: 

"Lady Babs!" 

The tone of his voice must have been as strange 
as it sounded to himself, for Barbara spun round. 

"Yes?" 

'How long am I going on like this?' 

197 



THE PATRICIAN 

Neither changing colour nor lowering her eyes, 
she regarded him with a faintly inquisitive in- 
terest. It was not a cruel look, had not a trace 
of mischief, or sex malice, and yet it frightened 
him by its serene inscrutability. Impossible to 
tell what was going on behind it. He took her 
hand, bent over it, and said in a low voice: 

"You know what I feel; don't be cruel to me !' 

She did not pull away her hand; it was as if she 
had not thought of it. 

'I am not a bit cruel." 

Looking up, he saw her smiling. 

"Then Babs!" 

His face was close to hers, but Barbara did not 
shrink back. She just shook her head; and Har- 
binger flushed up. 

'Why?' he asked; and as though the enor- 
mous injustice of that rejecting gesture had sud- 
denly struck him, he dropped her hand. 

'Why?' he said again, sharply. 

But the silence was only broken by the cheep- 
ing of sparrows outside the round window, and 
the sound of the horse, Hal, munching the last 
morsel of his carrot. Harbinger was aware in his 
every nerve of the sweetish, slightly acrid, husky 
odour of the loose-box, mingling with the scent 
of Barbara's hair and clothes. And rather miser- 
ably, he said for the third time: 

198 



THE PATRICIAN 



'Why?' 

But folding her hands away behind her back, 
she answered gently: 

'My dear, how should I know why?' : 

She was calmly exposed to his embrace if he 
had only dared; but he did not dare, and went 
back to the loose-box wall. Biting his finger, he 
stared at her gloomily. She was stroking the 
muzzle of her horse; and a sort of dry rage began 
whisking and rustling in his heart. She had re- 
fused him Harbinger ! He had not known, had 
not suspected how much he wanted her. How 
could there be anybody else for him, while that 
young, calm, sweet-scented, smiling thing lived, 
to make his head go round, his senses ache, and 
to fill his heart with longing ! He seemed to him- 
self at that moment the most unhappy of all 
men. 

'I shall not give you up," he muttered. 

Barbara's answer was a smile, faintly curious, 
compassionate, yet almost grateful, as if she had 
said: 

'Thank you who knows?' 

And rather quickly, a yard or so apart, and 
talking of horses, they returned to the house. 

It was about noon, when, accompanied by 
Courtier, she rode forth. 

The Sou- Westerly spell a matter of three 

199 



THE PATRICIAN 

days had given way before radiant stillness; 
and merely to be alive was to feel emotion. At 
a little stream running beside the moor under the 
wild stone man the riders stopped their horses, 
just to listen, and inhale the day. The far sweet 
chorus of life was tuned to a most delicate 
rhythm; not one of those small mingled pipings 
of streams and the lazy air, of beasts, men, birds, 
and bees, jarred out too harshly through the gar- 
ment of sound enwrapping the earth. It was noon 
the still moment but this hymn to the sun, 
after his too long absence, never for a moment 
ceased to be murmured. And the earth wore an 
under-robe of scent, delicious, very finely woven 
of the young fern sap, heather buds, larch-trees 
not yet odourless, gorse just going brown, drifted 
wood-smoke, and the breath of hawthorn. Above 
Earth's twin vestments of sound and scent, the 
blue enwrapping scarf of air, that wistful wide 
champaign, was spanned only by the wings of 
Freedom. 

After that long drink of the day, the riders 
mounted almost in silence to the very top of the 
moor. There again they sat quite still on their 
horses, examining the prospect. Far away to 
South and East lay the sea, plainly visible. Two 
small groups of wild ponies were slowly grazing 
towards each other on the hillside below. 

200 



THE PATRICIAN 

Courtier said in a low voice: 

"'Thus will I sit and sing; watching our two 
herds mingle together, and below us the far, 
divine, cerulean sea.' 

And, after another silence, looking steadily in 
Barbara's face, he added: 

"Lady Barbara, I am afraid this is the last 
time we shall be alone together. While I have the 
chance, therefore, I must do homage. You will 
always be the fixed star for my worship. But your 
rays are too bright; I shall worship from afar. 
From your seventh Heaven, therefore, look down 
on me with kindly eyes, and do not quite forget 



me/ 



Under that speech, so strangely compounded 
of irony and fervour, Barbara sat very still, with 
glowing cheeks. 

"Yes," said Courtier, "only an immortal must 
embrace a goddess. Outside the purlieus of Au- 
thority I shall sit cross-legged, and prostrate my- 
self three times a day." 

But Barbara answered nothing. 

"In the early morning," went on Courtier, 
"leaving the dark and dismal homes of Freedom 
I shall look towards the Temples of the Great; 
there with the eye of faith I shall see you." 

He stopped, for Barbara's lips were moving. 

"Don't hurt me, please." 

201 



THE PATRICIAN 

Courtier leaned over, took her hand, and put 
it to his lips. 'We will now ride on. . . ." 

That night at dinner Lord Dennis, seated op- 
posite his great-niece, was struck by her appear- 
ance. 

'A very beautiful child,' he thought, 'a most 
lovely young creature!' 

She was placed between Courtier and Har- 
binger. And the old man's still keen eyes care- 
fully watched those two. Though attentive to 
their neighbours on the other side, they were both 
of them keeping the corner of an eye on Barbara 
and on each other. The thing was transparent to 
Lord Dennis, and a smile settled in that nest of 
gravity between his white peaked beard and 
moustaches. But he waited, the instinct of a fish- 
erman bidding him to neglect no piece of water, 
till he saw the child silent and in repose, and 
watched carefully to see what would rise. Al- 
though she was so calmly, so healthily eating, her 
eyes stole round at Courtier. This quick look 
seemed to Lord Dennis perturbed, as if some- 
thing were exciting her. Then Harbinger spoke, 
and she turned to answer him. Her face was calm 
now, faintly smiling, a little eager, provocative 
in its joy of life. It made Lord Dennis think of 
his own youth. What a splendid couple ! If Babs 

202 



THE PATRICIAN 

married young Harbinger there would not be a 
finer pair in all England. His eyes travelled back 
to Courtier. Manly enough ! They called him 
dangerous ! There was a look of effervescence, 
carefully corked down might perhaps be attrac- 
tive to a girl ! To his essentially practical and 
sober mind, a type like Courtier was puzzling. 
He liked the look of him, but distrusted his 
ironic expression, and that appearance of blood 
to the head. A fellow no doubt who would 
ride off on his ideas, humanitarian ! To Lord 
Dennis, there was something queer about hu- 
manitarians. They offended, perhaps, his dry and 
precise sense of form. They were always looking 
out for cruelty or injustice; seemed delighted 
when they found it swelled up, as it were, when 
they scented it, and since there was a good deal 
about, were never quite of normal size. Men who 
lived for ideas were, in fact, to one for whom 
facts sufficed, always a little worrying ! A move- 
ment from Barbara brought him back to actu- 
ality. Was the possessor of that crown of hair and 
those divine young shoulders the little Babs who 
had ridden with him in the Row ? Time was cer- 
tainly the Devil ! Her eyes were searching for 
something; and following the direction of that 
glance, Lord Dennis found himself observing 
Miltoun. What a difference between those two ! 

203 



THE PATRICIAN 

Both no doubt in the great trouble of youth, 
which sometimes, as he knew too well, lasted on 
almost to old age. It was a curious look the child 
was giving her brother, as if asking him to help 
her. Lord Dennis had seen in his day many 
young creatures leave the shelter of their freedom 
and enter the house of the great lottery; many, 
who had drawn a prize and thereat lost forever 
the coldness of life; many too, the light of whose 
eyes had faded behind the shutters of that house, 
having drawn a blank. The thought of " little >: 
Babs on the threshold of that inexorable saloon, 
filled him with an eager sadness; and the sight 
of the two men watching for her, waiting for her, 
like hunters, was to him distasteful. In any case, 
let her not, for Heaven's sake, go ranging as far 
as that red fellow of middle age, who might have 
ideas, but had no pedigree; let her stick to youth 
and her own order, and marry the young man, 
confound him, who looked like a Greek god, of 
the wrong period, having grown a moustache. 
He remembered her words the other evening 
about these two and the different lives they 
lived. Some romantic notion or other was work- 
ing in her ! And again he looked at Courtier. A 
Quixotic type the sort that rode slap-bang at 
everything ! All very well but not for Babs ! She 
was not like the glorious Garibaldi's glorious 

204 



THE PATRICIAN 

Anita ! It was truly characteristic of Lord Dennis 
and indeed of other people that to him cham- 
pions of Liberty when dead were far dearer than 
champions of Liberty when living. Yes, Babs 
would want more, or was it less, than just a life 
of sleeping under the stars for the man she loved, 
and the cause he fought for. She would want 
pleasure, and not too much effort, and presently a 
little power; not the uncomfortable after- fame of 
a woman who went through fire, but the fame 
and power of beauty, and Society prestige. This 
fancy of hers, if it were a fancy, could be nothing 
but the romanticism of a young girl. For the sake 
of a passing shadow, to give up substance? It 
wouldn't do ! And again Lord Dennis fixed his 
shrewd glance on his great-niece. Those eyes, 
that smile ! Yes ! She would grow out of this. And 
take the Greek god, the dying Gaul whichever 
that young man was ! 



205 




CHAPTER XXI 

-T was not till the morning of poll- 
ing day itself that Courtier left 
Monkland Court. He had already 
suffered for some time from bad 
conscience. For his knee was prac- 
tically cured, and he knew well that it was Bar- 
bara, and Barbara alone, who kept him staying 
there. The atmosphere of that big house with its 
army of servants, the impossibility of doing any- 
thing for himself, and the feeling of hopeless in- 
sulation from the vivid and necessitous sides of 
life, galled him greatly. He felt a very genuine 
pity for these people who seemed to lead an ex- 
istence as it were smothered under their own so- 
cial importance. It was not their fault. He recog- 
nised that they did their best. They were good 
specimens of their kind; neither soft nor luxuri- 
ous, as things went in a degenerate and extrava- 
gant age; they evidently tried to be simple and 
this seemed to him to heighten the pathos of 
their situation. Fate had been too much for them. 
What human spirit could emerge untrammelled 
and unshrunken from that great encompassing 
host of material advantage? To a Bedouin like 

206 



THE PATRICIAN 

Courtier, it was as though a subtle, but very ter- 
rible tragedy was all the time being played before 
his eyes; and in the very centre of this tragedy 
was the girl who so greatly attracted him. Every 
night when he retired to that lofty room, which 
smelt so good, and where, without ostentation, 
everything was so perfectly ordered for his com- 
fort, he thought: 

'My God, to-morrow PII be off!' 

But every morning when he met her at break- 
fast his thought was precisely the same, and 
there were moments when he caught himself 
wondering: 'Am I falling under the spell of this 
existence am I getting soft?' He recognised as 
never before that the peculiar artificial '* hard- 
ness" of the patrician was a brine or pickle, in 
which, with the instinct of self-preservation, they 
deliberately soaked themselves, to prevent the 
decay of their overprotected fibre. He perceived 
even in Barbara a sort of sentiment-proof over- 
all, a species of mistrust of the emotional or lyri- 
cal, a kind of contempt of sympathy and feeling. 
And every day he was more and more tempted 
to lay rude hands on this garment; to see whether 
he could not make her catch fire, and flare up 
with some emotion or idea. In spite of her tan- 
talising, youthful self-possession, he saw that she 
felt this longing in him, and now and then he 

207 



THE PATRICIAN 

caught a glimpse of a streak of recklessness in her 
which lured him on. 

And yet, when at last he was saying good-bye 
on the night before polling day, he could not 
flatter himself that he had really struck any 
spark from her. Certainly she gave him no chance 
at that final interview, but stood amongst the 
other women, calm and smiling, as if determined 
that he should not again mock her with his ironi- 
cal devotion. 

He got up very early the next morning, intend- 
ing to pass away unseen. In the car put at his 
disposal, he found a small figure in a holland 
frock, leaning back against the cushions so that 
some sandalled toes pointed up at the chaffeur's 
back. They belonged to little Ann, who in the 
course of business had discovered the vehicle 
before the door. Her sudden little voice under her 
sudden little nose, friendly but not too friendly, 
was comforting to Courtier. 

' Are you going? I can come as far as the gate." 

"That is lucky." 

"Yes. Is that all your luggage?' 

"I'm afraid it is." 

"Oh! It's quite a lot, really, isn't it?" 

:< As much as I deserve." 

"Of course you don't have to take guinea-pigs 
about with you?' 

208 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Not as a rule." 

'I always do. There's great-Granny!' 

There certainly was Lady Casterley, standing 
a little back from the drive, and directing a tall 
gardener how to deal with an old oak-tree. Cour- 
tier alighted, and went towards her to say good- 
bye. She greeted him with a certain grim cor- 
diality. 

'So you are going ! I am glad of that, though 
you quite understand that I like you personally." 

"Quite!" 

Her eyes gleamed maliciously. 

'Men who laugh like you are dangerous, as 
I've told you before!' 

Then, with great gravity, she added: 

'My granddaughter will marry Lord Harbin- 
ger. I mention that, Mr. Courtier, for your peace 
of mind. You are a man of honour; it will go no 
further." 

Courtier, bowing over her hand, answered: 

"He will be lucky." 

The little old lady regarded him unflinchingly. 

"He will, sir. Good-bye!" 

Courtier smilingly raised his hat. His cheeks 
were burning. Regaining the car, he looked 
round. Lady Casterley was busy once more ex- 
horting the tall gardener. The voice of little Ann 
broke in on his thoughts: 

209 



THE PATRICIAN 

' I hope you'll come again. Because I expect I 
shall be here at Christmas; and my brothers will 
be here then, that is, Jock and Tiddy, not Chris- 
topher because he's young. I must go now. Good- 
bye ! Hallo, Susie!' 

Courtier saw her slide away, and join the little 
pale adoring figure of the lodge-keeper's daughter. 

The car passed out into the lane. 

If Lady Casterley had planned this disclosure, 
which indeed she had not, for the impulse had 
only come over her at the sound of Courtier's 
laugh, she could not have devised one more effec- 
tual, for there was deep down in him all a wan- 
derer's very real distrust, amounting almost to 
contempt, of people so settled and done for, as 
were aristocrats, and all a man of action's horror 
of what he called "puking and muling." The 
pursuit of Barbara with any other object but that 
of marriage had naturally not occurred to one 
who had little sense of conventional morality, 
but much self-respect; and a secret endeavour to 
cut out Harbinger, ending in a marriage whereat 
he would figure as a sort of pirate, was quite as 
little to the taste of a man not unaccustomed to 
think himself as good as other people. 

He caused the car to deviate up the lane that 
led to Audrey Noel's, hating to go away without 
a hail of cheer to that ship in distress. 

210 



THE PATRICIAN 

She came out to him on the verandah. From 
the clasp of her hand, thin and faintly browned 
the hand of a woman never quite idle he felt 
that she relied on him to understand and sympa- 
thise; and nothing so awakened the best in Cour- 
tier as such mute appeals to his protection. He 
said gently: 

'Don't let them think you're down;' : and, 
squeezing her hand hard: 'Why should you be 
wasted like this? It's a sin and shame!' 

But he stopped in what he felt to be an un- 
lucky speech at sight of her face, which without 
movement expressed so much more than his 
words. He was protesting as a civilised man; her 
face was the protest of Nature, the soundless 
declaration of beauty wasted against its will, 
beauty that was life's invitation to the embrace 
which gave life birth. 

'I'm clearing out, myself," he said: "You and 
I, you know, are not good for these people. No 
birds of freedom allowed!' 

Pressing his hand, she turned away into the 
house, leaving Courtier gazing at the patch of air 
where her white figure had stood. He had always 
had a special protective feeling for Audrey Noel, 
a feeling which with but little encouragement 
might have become something warmer. But since 
she had been placed in her anomalous position 

211 



THE PATRICIAN 

he would not for the world have brushed the dew 
off her belief that she could trust him. And now 
that he had fixed his own gaze elsewhere, and she 
was in this bitter trouble, he felt on her account 
the rancour that a brother feels when Justice and 
Pity have conspired to flout his sister. The voice 
of Frith the chauffeur roused him from gloomy 
reverie. 

'Lady Barbara, sir!' 

Following the man's eyes, Courtier saw against 
the skyline on the tor above Ashman's Folly, an 
equestrian statue. He stopped the car at once, 
and got out. 

He reached her at the ruin, screened from the 
road, by that divine chance which attends on 
men who take care that it shall. He could not tell 
whether she knew of his approach, and he would 
have given all he had, which was not much, to 
have seen through the stiff grey of her coat, and 
the soft cream of her body, into that mysterious 
cave, her heart. To have been for a moment, like 
Ashman, done for good and all with material 
things, and living the white life where are no 
barriers between man and woman. The smile on 
her lips so baffled him, puffed there by her spirit, 
as a first flower is puffed through the surface of 
earth to mock at the spring winds. How tell what 
it signified ! Yet he rather prided himself on his 

212 



THE PATRICIAN 

knowledge of women, of whom he had seen some- 
thing. But all he found to say was: 

"I'm glad of this chance." 

Then suddenly looking up, he found her 
strangely pale and quivering. 

*I shall see you in London!' she said; and, 
touching her horse with her whip, without look- 
ing back, she rode away over the hill. 

Courtier returned to the moor road, and get- 
ting into the car, muttered: 

"Faster, please, Frith!" . . . 



213 




CHAPTER XXII 

POLLING was already in brisk 
progress when Courtier arrived in 
Bucklandbury; and partly from 
a not unnatural interest in the 
result, partly from a half-uncon- 
scious clinging to the chance of catching another 
glimpse of Barbara, he took his bag to the hotel, 
determined to stay for the announcement of the 
poll. Strolling out into the High Street he began 
observing the humours of the day. The bloom of 
political belief had long been brushed off the 
wings of one who had flown the world's winds. 
He had seen too much of more vivid colours to 
be capable now of venerating greatly the dull 
and dubious tints of blue and yellow. They left 
him feeling extremely philosophic. Yet it was 
impossible to get away from them, for the very 
world that day seemed blue and yellow, nor did 
the third colour of red adopted by both sides af- 
ford any clear assurance that either could see 
virtue in the other; rather, it seemed to symbolise 
the desire of each to have his enemy's blood. But 
Courtier soon observed by the looks cast at his 
own detached, and perhaps sarcastic, face, that 

214 



THE PATRICIAN 

even more hateful to either side than any an- 
tagonist, was the philosophic eye. Unanimous 
was the longing to heave half a brick at it when- 
ever it showed itself. With its d d imparti- 
ality, its habit of looking through the integument 
of things, to see if there might be anything in- 
side, he felt that they regarded it as the real ad- 
versary the eternal foe to all the little fat 
'facts," which, dressed up in blue and yellow, 
were swaggering and staggering, calling each 
other names, wiping each other's eyes, blooding 
each other's noses. To these little solemn de- 
licious creatures, all front and no behind, the 
philosophic eye, with its habit of looking round 
the corner, was clearly detestable. The very yel- 
low and very blue bodies of these roistering small 
warriors with their hands on their tin swords and 
their lips on their tin trumpets, started up in 
every window and on every wall confronting 
each citizen in turn, persuading him that they 
and they alone were taking him to Westminster. 
Nor had they apparently for the most part much 
trouble with electors, who, finding uncertainty 
distasteful, passionately desired to be assured 
that the country could at once be saved by little 
yellow facts or little blue facts, as the case might 
be; who had, no doubt, a dozen other good rea- 
sons for being on the one side or the other; as, for 

215 



THE PATRICIAN 

instance, that their father had been so before 
them; that their bread was buttered yellow or 
buttered blue; that they had been on the other 
side last time; that they had thought it over and 
made up their minds; that they had innocent 
blue or naive yellow beer within; that his lord- 
ship was the man; or that the words proper to 
their mouths were "Chilcox for Bucklandbury"; 
and, above all, the one really creditable reason, 
that, so far as they could tell with the best of 
their intellect and feelings, the truth at the mo- 
ment was either blue or yellow. 

The narrow high street was thronged with 
voters. Tall policemen stationed there had noth- 
ing to do. The certainty of all, that they were 
going to win, seemed to keep everyone in good 
humour. There was as yet no need to break any- 
one's head, for though the sharpest lookout was 
kept for any signs of the philosophic eye, it was 
only to be found outside Courtier in the per- 
ambulators of babies, in one old man who rode 
a bicycle waveringly along the street and stopped 
to ask a policeman what was the matter in the 
town, and in two rather green-faced fellows who 
trundled barrows full of favours both blue and 
yellow. 

But though Courtier eyed the 'facts' with 
such suspicion, the keenness of everyone about 

216 



THE PATRICIAN 

the business struck him as really splendid. They 
went at it with a will. Having looked forward to 
it for months, they were going to look back on it 
for months. It was evidently a religious cere- 
mony, summing up most high feelings; and this 
seemed to one who was himself a man of action, 
natural, perhaps pathetic, but certainly no mat- 
ter for scorn. 

It was already late in the afternoon when there 
came debouching into the high street a long 
string of sandwichmen, each bearing before and 
behind him a poster containing these words 
beautifully situated in large dark blue letters 
against a pale blue ground: 

"NEW COMPLICATIONS 
DANGER NOT PAST 

VOTE FOR MILTOUN AND THE GOVERNMENT 
AND SAVE THE EMPIRE" 

Courtier stopped to look at them with indigna- 
tion. Not only did this poster tramp in again on 
his cherished convictions about Peace, but he 
saw in it something more than met the un- 
philosophic eye. It symbolised for him all that 
was catch-penny in the national life an epitaph 
on the grave of generosity, unutterably sad. Yet 
from a Party point of view what could be more 
justifiable? Was it not desperately important 

217 



THE PATRICIAN 

that every blue nerve should be strained that 
day to turn yellow nerves, if not blue, at all 
events green, before night fell? Was it not per- 
fectly true that the Empire could only be saved 
by voting blue? Could they help a blue paper 
printing the words, "New complications," which 
he had read that morning? No more than the 
yellows could help a yellow journal printing the 
words 'Lord Miltoun's Evening Adventure." 
The only business of blues was to win, ever fight- 
ing fair. The yellows had not fought fair, they 
never did, and one of their most unfair tactics 
was the way they had of always accusing the 
blues of unfair fighting, an accusation truly lu- 
dicrous ! As for truth ! That which helped the 
world to be blue, was obviously true; that which 
didn't, as obviously not. There was no middle 
policy ! The man who saw things neither blue nor 
yellow was a softy, and no proper citizen. And 
as for giving the yellows credit for sincerity the 
yellows never gave them credit! But though 
Courtier knew all that, this poster seemed to 
him particularly damnable, and he could not for 
the life of him resist striking one of the sandwich- 
boards with his cane. The resounding thwack 
startled a butcher's pony standing by the pave- 
ment. It reared, and bolted forward, with Cour- 
tier, who had naturally seized the rein, hanging 

218 



THE PATRICIAN 

on. A dog dashed past. Courtier tripped and fell. 
The pony, passing over, struck him on the head 
with a hoof. For a moment he lost consciousness; 
then coming to himself, refused assistance, and 
went to his hotel. He felt very giddy, and, 
after bandaging a nasty cut, lay down on his 
bed. 

Miltoun, returning from that necessary exhi- 
bition of himself, the crowning fact, at every 
polling centre, found time to go and see him. 

'That last poster of yours!' Courtier began 
at once. 

Tin having it withdrawn." 

'It's done the trick congratulations you'll 
get in!" 

' I knew nothing of it." 

"My dear fellow, I didn't suppose you did." 

'When there is a desert, Courtier, between a 
man and the sacred city, he doesn't renounce his 
journey because he has to wash in dirty water 
on the way. But the mob how I loathe it!' 

There was such pent-up fury in those words as 
to astonish even one whose life had been passed 
in conflict with majorities. 

' I hate its mean stupidities, I hate the sound 
of its voice, and the look on its face it's so ugly, 
it's so little. Courtier, I suffer purgatory from the 
thought that I shall scrape in by the votes of the 

219 



THE PATRICIAN 

mob. There is sin in using this creature and I am 
expiating it." 

To this strange outburst, Courtier at first made 
no reply. 

1 You've been working too hard/ 5 he said at 
last, "you're off your balance. After all, the 
mob's made up of men like you and me.' 3 

"No, Courtier, the mob is not made up of men 
like you and me. If it were it would not be the 
mob." 

'It looks," Courtier answered gravely, 'as if 
you had no business in this galley. I've always 
steered clear of it myself." 

'You follow your feelings. I have not that 
happiness." 

So saying, Miltoun turned to the door. 

Courtier's voice pursued him earnestly. 
'Drop your politics if you feel like this about 
them; don't waste your life following whatever it 
is you follow; don't waste hers!' 

But Miltoun did not answer. 

It was a wondrous still night, when, a few min- 
utes before twelve, with his forehead bandaged 
under his hat, the champion of lost causes left the 
hotel and made his way towards the Grammar 
School for the declaration of the poll. A sound as 
of some monster breathing guided him, till, from 
a steep empty street he came in sight of a surging 

220 



THE PATRICIAN 

crowd, spread over the town square, like a dark 
carpet patterned by splashes of lamplight. High 
up above that crowd, on the little peaked tower 
of the Grammar School, a brightly lighted clock 
face presided; and over the passionate hopes in 
those thousands of hearts knit together by sus- 
pense the sky had lifted, and showed no cloud 
between them and the purple fields of air. To 
Courtier descending towards the square, the 
swaying white faces, turned all one way, seemed 
like the heads of giant wild flowers in a dark field, 
shivered by wind. The night had charmed away 
the blue and yellow facts, and breathed down 
into that throng the spirit of emotion. And he 
realised all at once the beauty and meaning of 
this scene expression of the quivering forces, 
whose perpetual flux, controlled by the Spirit of 
Balance, was the soul of the world. Thousands of 
hearts with the thought of self lost in one over- 
mastering excitement ! 

An old man with a long grey beard, standing 
close to his elbow, murmured: 

"'Tis anxious work I wouldn't ha* missed 
this for anything in the world." 

"Fine, eh?' answered Courtier. 

"Aye," said the old man, 'tis fine. I've not 
seen the like o' this since the great year forty- 
eight. There they are the aristocrats!' 3 

221 



THE PATRICIAN 

c 

Following the direction of that skinny hand 
Courtier saw on a balcony Lord and Lady Val- 
leys, side by side, looking steadily down at the 
crowd. There too, leaning against a window and 
talking to someone behind, was Barbara. The old 
man went on muttering, and Courtier could see 
that his eyes had grown very bright, his whole 
face transfigured by intense hostility; he felt 
drawn to this old creature, thus moved to the 
very soul. Then he saw Barbara looking down at 
him, with her hand raised to her temple to show 
that she saw his bandaged head. He had the pres- 
ence of mind not to lift his hat. 

The old man spoke again. 
c You wouldn't remember forty-eight, I sup- 
pose. There was a feeling in the people then we 
would ha* died for things in those days. I'm 
eighty-four," and he held his shaking hand up to 
his breast, 'but the spirit's alive here yet! God 
send the Radical gets in!' There was wafted 
from him a scent as of potatoes. 

Far behind, at the very edge of the vast dark 
throng, some voices began singing : ' ' Way down 
upon the Swanee ribber." The tune floated forth, 
ceased, spurted up once more, and died. 

Then, in the very centre of the square a sten- 
torian baritone roared forth: 'Should auld ac- 
quaintance be forgot!' 

222 



THE PATRICIAN 

The song swelled, till every kind of voice, from 
treble to the old Chartist's quavering bass, was 
chanting it; here and there the crowd heaved 
with the movement of linked arms. Courtier 
found the soft fingers of a young woman in his 
right hand, the old Chartist's dry trembling paw 
in his left. He himself sang loudly. The grave and 
fearful music sprang straight up into the air, 
rolled out right and left, and was lost among the 
hills. But it had no sooner died away than the 
same huge baritone yelled: 'God save our 
gracious King!' The stature of the crowd 
seemed at once to leap up two feet, and from 
under that platform of raised hats rose a stu- 
pendous shouting. 

'This,' thought Courtier, 'is religion!' 

They were singing even on the balconies; by 
the lamplight he could see Lord Valleys' mouth 
not opened quite enough, as though his voice 
were just a little ashamed of coming out, and 
Barbara with her head flung back against the 
pillar, pouring out her heart. No mouth in all the 
crowd was silent. It was as though the soul of the 
English people were escaping from its dungeon 
of reserve, on the pinions of that chant. 

But suddenly, like a shot bird closing wings, 
the song fell silent and dived headlong back to 
earth. Out from under the clock-face had moved 

223 



THE PATRICIAN 

a thin dark figure. More figures came behind. 
Courtier could see Miltoun. A voice far away 
cried: "Up, Chilcox!" A huge: "Hush!" fol- 
lowed; then such a silence, that the sound of an 
engine shunting a mile away could be heard 
plainly. 

The dark figure moved forward, and a tiny 
square of paper gleamed out white against the 
black of his frock-coat. 

"Ladies and gentlemen. Result of the Poll: 
Miltoun Four thousand eight hundred and 
ninety-eight. Chilcox Four thousand eight hun- 
dred and two." 

The silence seemed to fall to earth, and break 
into a thousand pieces. Through the pandemo- 
nium of cheers and groaning, Courtier with all 
his strength forced himself towards the balcony. 
He could see Lord Valleys leaning forward with 
a broad smile; Lady Valleys passing her hand 
across her eyes; Barbara with her hand in 
Harbinger's, looking straight into his face. He 
stopped. The old Chartist was still beside him, 
tears rolling down his cheeks into his beard. 

Courtier saw Miltoun come forward, and 
stand, unsmiling, deathly pale. 



224 



PART II 




CHAPTER I 

T three o'clock in the afternoon 
of the nineteenth of July little 
Ann Shropton commenced the as- 
cent of the main staircase of Val- 
leys House, London. She climbed 
slowly, in the very middle, an extremely small 
white figure on those wide and shining stairs, 
counting them aloud. Their number was never 
alike two days running, which made them at- 
tractive to one for whom novelty was the salt of 
life. 

Coming to that spot where they branched, she 
paused to consider which of the two flights she 
had used last, and unable to remember, sat down. 
She was the bearer of a message. It had been new 
when she started, but was already comparatively 
old, and likely to become older, in view of a de- 
sign now conceived by her of travelling the whole 
length of the picture gallery. And while she sat 
maturing this plan, sunlight flooding through a 
large window drove a white refulgence down into 
the heart of the wide polished space of wood and 
marble, whence she had come. The nature of 
little Ann habitually rejected fairies and all fan- 

227 



THE PATRICIAN 

tastic things, finding them quite too much in the 
air, and devoid of sufficient reality and 'go"; 
and this refulgence, almost unearthly in its 
travelling glory, passed over her small head and 
played strangely with the pillars in the hall, with- 
out exciting in her any fancies or any sentiment. 
The intention of discovering what was at the end 
of the picture gallery absorbed the whole of her 
essentially practical and active mind. Deciding 
on the left-hand flight of stairs, she entered that 
immensely long, narro\v, and with blinds drawn 
rather dark saloon. She walked carefully, be- 
cause the floor was very slippery here, and with a 
kind of seriousness due partly to the darkness 
and partly to the pictures. They were indeed, in 
this light, rather formidable, those old Caradocs, 
black, armoured creatures, some of them, who 
seemed to eye with a sort of burning, grim, de- 
fensive greed the small white figure of their de- 
scendant passing along between them. But little 
Ann, who knew they were only pictures, main- 
tained her course steadily, and every now and 
then, as she passed one who seemed to her rather 
uglier than the others, wrinkled her sudden little 
nose. At the end, as she had thought, appeared 
a door. She opened it, and passed on to a landing. 
There was a stone staircase in the corner, and 
there were two doors. It would be nice to go up 

228 



THE PATRICIAN 

the staircase, but ft would also be nice to open 
the doors. Going towards the first door, with a 
little thrill, she turned the handle. It was one of 
those rooms, necessary in houses, for which she 
had no great liking; and closing this door rather 
loudly she opened the other one, finding herself 
in a chamber not resembling the rooms down- 
stairs, which were all high and nicely gilded, but 
more like where she had lessons, low, and filled 
with books and leather chairs. From the end of 
the room which she could not see, she heard a 
sound as of someone kissing something, and in- 
stinct had almost made her turn to go away when 
the word: "Hallo!" suddenly opened her lips. 
And almost directly she saw that Granny and 
Grandpapa were standing by the fireplace. Not 
knowing quite whether they were glad to see her, 
she went forward and began at once: 

"Is this where you sit, Grandpapa?' 

"It is." 

"It's nice, isn't it, Granny? Where does the 
stone staircase go to?' 

"To the roof of the tower, Ann." 

"Oh! I have to give a message, so I must go 



now. 

(( 



Sorry to lose you." 
"Yes; good-bye!' 

Hearing the door shut behind her, Lord and 

229 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Valleys looked at each other with a dubious 
smile. 

The little interview which she had interrupted, 
had arisen in this way. 

Accustomed to retire to this quiet and homely 
room, which was not his official study where he 
was always liable to the attacks of secretaries, 
Lord Valleys had come up here after lunch to 
smoke and chew the cud of a worry. 

The matter was one in connection with his 
Pendridny estate, in Cornwall. It had long agi- 
tated both his agent and himself, and had now 
come to him for final decision. The question af- 
fected two villages to the north of the property, 
whose inhabitants were solely dependent on the 
working of a large quarry, which had for some 
time been losing money. 

A kindly man, he was extremely averse to any 
measure which would plunge his tenants into dis- 
tress, and especially in cases where there had 
been no question of opposition between himself 
and them. But, reduced to its essentials, the mat- 
ter stood thus : Apart from that particular quarry 
the Pendridny estate was not only a going, but 
even a profitable concern, supporting itself and 
supplying some of the sinews of war towards 
Valleys House and the racing establishment at 
Newmarket and other general expenses; with 

230 



THE PATRICIAN 

this quarry still running, allowing for the upkeep 
of Pendridny, and the provision of pensions to 
superannuated servants, it was rather the other 
way. 

Sitting there, that afternoon, smoking his fa- 
vourite pipe, he had at last come to the conclu- 
sion that there was nothing for it but to close 
down. He had not made this resolution lightly; 
though, to do him justice, the knowledge that the 
decision would be bound to cause an outcry in the 
local, and perhaps the National, Press, had se- 
cretly rather spurred him on to the resolve than 
deterred him from it. He felt as if he were being 
dictated to in advance, and he did not like dic- 
tation. To have to deprive these poor people of 
their immediate living was, he knew, a good deal 
more irksome to him than to those who would 
certainly make a fuss about it, his conscience 
was clear, and he could discount that future out- 
cry as mere Party spite. He had very honestly 
tried to examine the thing all round; and had 
reasoned thus: If I keep this quarry open, I am 
really admitting the principle of pauperisation, 
since I naturally look to each of my estates to 
support its own house, grounds, shooting, and to 
contribute towards the support of this house, and 
my family, and racing stable, and all the people 
employed about them both. To allow any busi- 

231 



THE PATRICIAN 

ness to be run on my estates which does not con- 
tribute to the general upkeep, is to protect and 
really pauperise a portion of my tenants at the 
expense of the rest; it must therefore be false 
economics and a secret sort of socialism. Further, 
if logically followed out, it might end in my ruin, 
and to allow that, though I might not personally 
object, would be to imply that I do not believe 
that I am by virtue of my traditions and train- 
ing, the best machinery through which the State 
can work to secure the welfare of the people. . . . 

When he had reached that point in his consid- 
eration of the question, his mind, or rather per- 
haps, his essential self, had not unnaturally risen 
up and said : Which is absurd ! 

Impersonality was in fashion, and as a rule he 
believed in thinking impersonally. There was a 
point, however, where the possibility of doing so 
ceased, without treachery to oneself, one's order, 
and the country. And to the argument which he 
was quite shrewd enough to put to himself, 
sooner than have it put by anyone else, that it 
was disproportionate for a single man by a stroke 
of the pen to be able to dispose of the livelihood 
of hundreds whose senses and feelings were sim- 
ilar to his own he had answered: 'If 7 didn't, 
some plutocrat or company would or, worse 
still, the State!' Co-operative enterprise being, 

232 



THE PATRICIAN 

in his opinion, foreign to the spirit of the country, 
there was, so far as he could see, no other alterna- 
tive. Facts were facts and not to be got over ! 

Notwithstanding all this, the necessity for the 
decision made him sorry, for if he had no great 
sense of proportion, he was at least humane. 

He was still smoking his pipe and staring at a 
sheet of paper covered with small figures when 
his wife entered. Though she had come to ask his 
advice on a very different subject, she saw at 
once that he was vexed, and said: 

"What's the matter, Geoff?" 

Lord Valleys rose, went to the hearth, delib- 
erately tapped out his pipe, then held out to her 
the sheet of paper. 

'That quarry ! Nothing for it must go !' : 

Lady Valleys' face changed. 

:< 0h, no! It will mean such dreadful dis- 
tress." 

Lord Valleys stared at his nails. " It's putting 
a drag on the whole estate," he said. 

' I know, but how could we face the people 
I should never be able to go down there. And 
most of them have such enormous families." 

Since Lord Valleys continued to bend on his 
nails that slow, thought -forming stare, she went 
on earnestly: 

'Rather than that I'd make sacrifices. I'd 

233 



THE PATRICIAN 

sooner Pendridny were let than throw all those 
people out of work. I suppose it would let." 

'Let? Best woodcock shooting in the world." 

Lady Valleys, pursuing her thoughts, went 
on: 

' In time we might get the people drafted into 
other things. Have you consulted Miltoun?' 

"No," said Lord Valleys shortly, "and don't 
mean to he's too unpractical." 

'He always seems to know what he \vants very 
well." 

"I tell you," repeated Lord Valleys, "Mil- 
toun's no good in a matter of this sort he and 
his ideas throw back to the Middle Ages." 

Lady Valleys went closer, and took him by the 
lapels of his collar. 

"Geoff really, to please me; some other 
way!" 

Lord Valleys frowned, staring at her for some 
time; and at last answered: 

'To please you I'll leave it over another 
year." 

"You think that's better than letting?' 

'I don't like the thought of some outsider 
there. Time enough to come to that if we must. 
Take it as my Christmas present." 

Lady Valleys, rather flushed, bent forward and 
kissed his ear. 

234 



THE PATRICIAN 

It was at this moment that little Ann had en- 
tered. 

When she was gone, and they had exchanged 
that dubious look, Lady Valleys said: 

"I came about Babs. I don't know what to 
make of her since we came up. She's not putting 
her heart into things." 

Lord Valleys answered almost sulkily: 

"It's the heat probably or Claud Harbin- 
ger." In spite of his easy-going parentalism, he 
disliked the thought of losing the child whom he 
so affectionately admired. 

"Ah!" said Lady Valleys slowly, "I'm not so 



sure." 







: How do you mean?' 

"There's something queer about her. I'm by 
no means certain she hasn't got some sort of feel- 
ing for that Mr. Courtier." 

"What !" said Lord Valleys, growing most un- 
philosophically red. 

"Exactly!" 

"Confound it, Gertrude, Miltoun's business 
was quite enough for one year." 

" For twenty," murmured Lady Valleys. " Pm 
watching her. He's going to Persia, they say." 

"And leaving his bones there, I hope," mut- 
tered Lord Valleys. "Really, it's too much. I 
should think you're all wrong, though." 

235 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Valleys raised her eyebrows. Men were 
very queer about such things ! Very queer and 
worse than helpless ! 

'Well," she said, 'I must go to my meeting. 
Til take her, and see if I can get at something/' 
and she went away. 

It was the inaugural meeting of the Society for 
the Promotion of the Birth Rate, over which she 
had promised to preside. The scheme was one in 
which she had been prominent from the start, 
appealing as it did to her large and full-blooded 
nature. Many movements, to which she found it 
impossible to refuse her name, had in themselves 
but small attraction; and it was a real comfort to 
feel something approaching enthusiasm for one 
branch of her public work. Not that there was 
any academic consistency about her in the mat- 
ter, for in private life amongst her friends she 
was not narrowly dogmatic on the duty of wives 
to multiply exceedingly. She thought imperially 
on the subject, without bigotry. Large, healthy 
families, in all cases save individual ones ! The 
prime idea at the back of her mind was Na- 
tional Expansion ! Her motto, and she intended 
if possible to make it the motto of the League, 
was: "De I'audace, et encore de I'audace!" It was a 
question of the full realisation of the nation. She 
had a true, and in a sense touching belief in "the 

236 



THE PATRICIAN 

flag," apart from what it might cover. It was her 
idealism. 'You may talk," she would say, 'as 
much as you like about directing national life in 
accordance with social justice ! What does the 
nation care about social justice? The thing is 
much bigger than that. It's a matter of senti- 
ment. We must expand!' 

On the way to the meeting, occupied with her 
speech, she made no attempt to draw Barbara 
into conversation. That must wait. The child, 
though languid, and pale, was looking so beauti- 
ful that it was a pleasure to have her support in 
such a movement. 

In a little dark room behind the hall the Com- 
mittee were already assembled, and they went 
at once on to the platform. 



237 



CHAPTER II 




[NMOVED by the stare of the au- 
dience, Barbara sat absorbed in 
moody thoughts. 

*/ x 

Into the three weeks since Mil- 
toun's election there had been 
crowded such a multitude of functions that she 
had found, as it were, no time, no energy to know 
where she stood with herself. Since that morning 
in the stable, when he had watched her with the 
horse Hal, Harbinger had seemed to live only to 
be close to her. And the consciousness of his pas- 
sion gave her a tingling sense of pleasure. She had 
been riding and dancing with him, and some- 
times this had been almost blissful. But there 
were times too, when she felt though always 
with a certain contempt of herself, as when she 
sat on that sunwarmed stone below r the tor a 
queer dissatisfaction, a longing for something 
outside a world where she had to invent her own 
starvations and simplicities, to make-believe in 
earnestness. 

She had seen Courtier three times. Once he had 
come to dine, in response to an invitation from 

238 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Valleys worded in that charming, almost 
wistful style, which she had taught herself to use 
to those below her in social rank, especially if 
they were intelligent; once to the Valleys House 
garden party; and, next day, having told him 
what time she would be riding, she had found 
him in the Row, not mounted, but standing by 
the rail just where she must pass, with that look 
on his face of mingled deference and ironic self- 
containment, of which he was a master. It ap- 
peared that he was leaving England; and to her 
questions why, and where, he had only shrugged 
his shoulders. Up on this dusty platform, in the 
hot bare hall, facing all those people, listening 
to speeches whose sense she was too languid and 
preoccupied to take in, the whole medley of 
thoughts, and faces round her, and the sound of 
the speakers' voices, formed a kind of nightmare, 
out of which she noted with extreme exactitude 
the colour of her mother's neck beneath a large 
black hat, and the expression on the face of a 
Committee man to the right, who was biting his 
fingers under cover of a blue paper. She realised 
that someone was speaking amongst the audi- 
ence, casting forth, as it were, small bunches of 
words. She could see him a little man in a black 
coat, with a white face which kept jerking up and 
down. 

239 



THE PATRICIAN 

'I feel that this is terrible,' 3 she heard him 
say; 'I feel that this is blasphemy. That we 
should try to tamper with the greatest force, the 
greatest and the most sacred and secret force, 
that that moves in the world, is to me horrible. 
I cannot bear to listen; it seems to make every- 
thing so small !" She saw him sit down, and her 
mother rising to answer. 

'We must all sympathise with the sincerity 
and to a certain extent with the intention of our 
friend in the body of the hall. But we must ask 
ourselves: Have we the right to allow ourselves 
the luxury of private feelings in a matter which 
concerns the national expansion. We must not 
give way to sentiment. Our friend in the body of 
the hall spoke he will forgive me for saying so 
like a poet, rather than a serious reformer. I 
am afraid that if we let ourselves drop into 
poetry, the birth rate of this country will very 
soon drop into poetry too. And that I think it is 
impossible for us to contemplate with folded 
hands. The resolution I was about to propose 
when our friend in the body of the hall- 

But Barbara's attention had wandered off 
again into that queer medley of thoughts, and 
feelings, out of which the little man had so 
abruptly roused her. Then she realised that the 
meeting was breaking up, and her mother saying : 

240 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Now, my dear, it's hospital day. We've just 
time." 

When they were once more in the car, she 
leaned back very silent, watching the traffic. 

Lady Valleys eyed her sidelong. 

"What a little bombshell," she said, "from 
that small person ! He must have got in by mis- 
take. I hear Mr. Courtier has a card for Helen 
Gloucester's ball to-night, Babs." 

"Poor man!" 

" You will be there," said Lady Valleys dryly. 

Barbara drew back into her corner. 

"Don't tease me, Mother!" 

An expression of compunction crossed Lady 
Valleys' face; she tried to possess herself of Bar- 
bara's hand. But that languid hand did not re- 
turn her squeeze. 

' I know the mood you're in, dear. It wants all 
one's pluck to shake it off; don't let it grow on 
you. You'd better go down to Uncle Dennis to- 
morrow. You've been overdoing it." 

Barbara sighed. 

"I wish it were to-morrow." 

The car had stopped, and Lady Valleys said : 

"Will you come in, or are you too tired? It 
always does them good to see you." 

c You're twice as tired as me," Barbara an- 
swered; 'of course I'll come." 

241 



THE PATRICIAN 

At the entrance of the two ladies, there rose at 
once a faint buzz and murmur. Lady Valleys, 
whose ample presence radiated suddenly a busi- 
ness-like and cheery confidence, went to a bed- 
side and sat down. But Barbara stood in a thin 
streak of the July sunlight, uncertain where to 
begin, amongst the faces turned towards her. 
The poor dears looked so humble, and so wistful, 
and so tired. There was one lying quite flat, who 
had not even raised her head to see who had 
come in. That slumbering, pale, high-cheek- 
boned face had a frailty as if a touch, a breath, 
would shatter it; a wisp of the blackest hair, finer 
than silk, lay across the forehead; the closed eyes 
were deep sunk; one hand, scarred almost to the 
bone with work, rested above her breast. She 
breathed between lips which had no colour. 
About her, sleeping, was a kind of beauty. And 
there came over the girl a queer rush of emotion. 
The sleeper seemed so apart from everything 
there, from all the formality and stiffness of the 
ward. To look at her swept away the languid, 
hollow feeling with which she had come in; it 
made her think of the tors at home, when the 
wind was blowing, and all was bare, and grand, 
and sometimes terrible. There was something 
elemental in that still sleep. And the old lady in 
the next bed, with a brown wrinkled face and 

242 



THE PATRICIAN 

bright black eyes brimful of life, seemed almost 
vulgar beside such remote tranquillity, while she 
was telling Barbara that a little bunch of heather 
in the better half of a soap-dish on the window- 
sill had come from Wales, because, as she ex- 
plained: 'My mother was born in Stirling, 
dearie; so I likes a bit of heather, though I never 
been out o' Bethnal Green meself." 

But when Barbara again passed, the sleeping 
woman was sitting up, and looked but a poor 
ordinary thing her strange fragile beauty all 
withdrawn. 

It was a relief when Lady Valleys said : 

"My dear, my Naval Bazaar at five-thirty; 
and while I'm there you must go home and have 
a rest, and freshen yourself up for the evening. 
We dine at Plassey House." 

The Duchess of Gloucester's Ball, a function 
which no one could very well miss, had been 
fixed for this late date owing to the Duchess's 
announced desire to prolong the season and so 
help the hackney cabmen; and though every- 
body sympathised, it had been felt by most that 
it would be simpler to go away, motor up on the 
day of the Ball, and motor down again on the 
following morning. And throughout the week 
by which the season was thus prolonged, in 
long rows at the railway stations, and on their 

243 



THE PATRICIAN 

stands, the hackney cabmen, unconscious of 
what was being done for them, waited, patient 
as their horses. But since everybody was making 
this special effort, an exceptionally large, exclu- 
sive, and brilliant company reassembled at 
Gloucester House. 

In the vast ballroom over the medley of en- 
twined revolving couples, punkahs had been 
fixed, to clear and freshen the languid air, and 
these huge fans, moving with incredible slow- 
ness, drove a faint refreshing draught down over 
the sea of white shirt-fronts and bare necks, and 
freed the scent from innumerable flowers. 

Late in the evening, close by one of the great 
clumps of bloom, a very pretty woman stood 
talking to Bertie Caradoc. She was his cousin, 
Lily Malvezin, sister of Geoffrey Winlow, and 
wife of a Liberal peer, a charming creature, whose 
pink cheeks, bright eyes, quick lips, and rounded 
figure, endowed her with the prettiest air of ani- 
mation. And while she spoke she kept stealing sly 
glances at her partner, trying as it were to pierce 
the armour of that self-contained young man. 

'No, my dear," she said in her mocking voice, 
'you'll never persuade me that Miltoun is going 
to catch on. 77 est trop intransigeant. Ah ! there's 
Babs!" 

For the girl had come gliding by, her eyes 

244 



THE PATRICIAN 

wandering lazily, her lips just parted; her neck, 
hardly less pale than her white frock; her face 
pale, and marked with languor, under the heavy 
coil of her tawny hair; and her swaying body 
seeming with each turn of the waltz to be caught 
by the arms of her partner from out of a swoon. 

With that immobility of lips, learned by all 
imprisoned in Society, Lily Malvezin murmured : 
'Who's that she's dancing with? Is it the dark 
horse, Bertie?' 

Through lips no less immobile Bertie answered : 
'Forty to one, no takers." 

But those inquisitive bright eyes still followed 
Barbara, drifting in the dance, like a great water- 
lily caught in the swirl of a mill pool; and the 
thought passed through that pretty head: 

4 She's hooked him. It's naughty of Babs, 
really ! ' And then she saw leaning against a 
pillar another whose eyes also were following 
those two; and she thought: 'H'm! Poor Claud 
no wonder he's looking like that. Oh! Babs!' 

By one of the statues on the terrace Barbara 
and her partner stood, where trees, disfigured by 
no gaudy lanterns, offered the refreshment of 
their darkness and serenity. 

Wrapped in her new pale languor, still breath- 
ing deeply from the waltz, she seemed to Cour- 
tier too utterly moulded out of loveliness. To 

245 



THE PATRICIAN 

what end should a man frame speeches to a vi- 
sion ! She was but an incarnation of beauty im- 
printed on the air, and would fade out at a touch 
like the sudden ghosts of enchantment that 
came to one under the blue, and the starlit snow 
of a mountain night, or in a birch wood and wist- 
ful golden ! Speech seemed but desecration ! Be- 
sides, what of interest was there for him to speak 
of in this world of hers, so bewildering and so 
glibly assured this world that was like a build- 
ing, whose every window was shut and had a blind 
drawn down. A building that admitted none who 
had not sworn, as it were, to believe it the world, 
the whole world, and nothing but the world, out- 
side which were only the rubbled remains of what 
had built it. This world of Society, in which he 
felt like one travelling through a desert, longing 
to meet a fellow-creature! 

The voice of Harbinger behind them said: 

"Lady Babs!" 

Long did the punkahs waft their breeze over 
that brave-hued wheel of pleasure, and the sound 
of the violins quaver and wail out into the morn- 
ing. Then quickly, as the spangles of dew vanish 
off grass when the sun rises, all melted away; and 
in the great rooms were none but flunkeys pre- 
siding over the polished surfaces like flamingoes 
by some lakeside at dawn. 

246 




CHAPTER III 

BRICK dower-house of the Fitz- 
Harolds, just outside the little 
seaside town of Nettlefold, shel- 
tered the tranquil days of Lord 
Dennis. In that south-coast air, 
sanest and most healing in all England, he aged 
very slowly, taking little thought of death, and 
much quiet pleasure in his life. Like the tall old 
house with its high windows and squat chimneys, 
he was marvellously self-contained. His books, 
for he somewhat passionately examined old civi- 
lisations, and described their habits from time to 
time with a dry and not too poignant pen in a 
certain old-fashioned magazine; his microscope, 
for he studied infusoria; and the fishing boat of 
his friend John Bogle, who had long perceived 
that Lord Dennis was the biggest fish he ever 
caught; all these, with occasional visitors, and 
little runs to London, to Monkland, and other 
country houses, made up the sum of a life which, 
if not desperately beneficial, was uniformly kind 
and harmless, and, by its notorious simplicity, 
had a certain negative influence not only on his 
own class but on the relations of that class with 

247 



THE PATRICIAN 

the country at large. It was commonly said in 
Nettlefold, that he was a gentleman; if they were 
all like him there wasn't much in all this talk 
against the Lords. The shop people and lodging- 
house keepers felt that the interests of the coun- 
try were safer in his hands than in the hands of 
people who wanted to meddle with everything 
for the good of those who were only anxious to be 
let alone. A man too who could so completely 
forget he was the son of a Duke, that other people 
never forget it, was the man for their money. It 
was true that he had never had a say in public 
affairs; but this was overlooked, because he could 
have had it if he liked, and the fact that he did 
not like, only showed once more that he was a 
gentleman. 

Just as he was the one personality of the little 
town against whom practically nothing was ever 
said, so was his house the one house which defied 
criticism. Time had made it utterly suitable. The 
ivied walls, and purplish roof lichened yellow in 
places, the quiet meadows harbouring ponies and 
kine, reaching from it to the sea all was mel- 
low. In truth it made all the other houses of the 
town seem shoddy standing alone beyond them, 
like its master, if anything a little too aestheti- 
cally remote from common wants. 

He had practically no near neighbours of whom 

248 



THE PATRICIAN 

he saw anything, except once in a way young 
Harbinger three miles distant at Whitewater. 
But since he had the faculty of not being bored 
with his own society, this did not worry him. Of 
local charity, especially to the fishers of the town, 
whose winter months were nowadays very bare 
of profit, he was prodigal to the verge of extrava- 
gance, for his income was not great. But in poli- 
tics, beyond acting as the figure-head of certain 
municipal efforts, he took little or no part. His 
Toryism indeed was of the mild order, that had 
little belief in the regeneration of the country by 
any means but those of kindly feeling between 
the classes. When asked how that was to be 
brought about, he would answer with his dry, 
slightly malicious, suavity, that if you stirred 
hornets' nests with sticks the hornets would 
come forth. Having no land, he was shy of ex- 
pressing himself on that vexed question; but if 
resolutely attacked would give utterance to some 
such sentiment as this : c The land's best in our 
hands on the whole, but we want fewer dogs-in- 
the-manger among us." 

He had, as became one of his race, a feeling for 
land, tender and protective, and could not bear 
to think of its being put out to farm with that 
cold Mother, the State. He was ironical over the 
views of Radicals or Socialists, but disliked to 

249 



THE PATRICIAN 

hear such people personally abused behind their 
backs. It must be confessed, however, that if con- 
tradicted he increased considerably the ironical 
decision of his sentiments. Withdrawn from all 
chance in public life of enforcing his views on 
others, the natural aristocrat within him was 
forced to find some expression. 

Each year, towards the end of July, he placed 
his house at the service of Lord Valleys, who 
found it a convenient centre for attending Good- 
wood. 

It was on the morning after the Duchess of 
Gloucester's Ball, that he received this note: 

"DEAREST UNCLE DENNIS, " VALI - EYS HouSE - 

'May I come down to you a little before time, 
and rest? London is so terribly hot. Mother has 
three functions still to stay for, and I shall have 
to come back again for our last evening, the po- 
litical one so I don't want to go all the way to 
Monkland; and anywhere else, except with you, 
would be rackety. Eustace looks so seedy. I'll try 
and bring him, if I may. Granny is terribly well. 

Best love, dear, from your 

BABS.' 



The same afternoon she came, but without 
Miltoun, driving up from the station in a fly. 

250 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lord Dennis met her at the gate; and, having 
kissed her, looked at her somewhat anxiously, 
caressing his white peaked beard. He had never 
yet known Babs sick of anything, except when 
he took her out in John Bogle's boat. She was 
certainly looking pale, and her hair was done 
differently a fact disturbing to one who did not 
discover it. Slipping his arm through hers he led 
her out into a meadow still full of buttercups, 
where an old white pony, who had carried her in 
the Row twelve years ago, came up to them and 
rubbed his muzzle against her waist. And sud- 
denly there rose in Lord Dennis the thoroughly 
discomforting and strange suspicion that, though 
the child was not going to cry, she wanted time 
to get over the feeling that she was. Without ap- 
pearing to separate himself from her, he walked 
to the wall at the end of the field, and stood look- 
ing at the sea. 

The tide was nearly up; the South wind driv- 
ing over it brought to him the scent of the sea- 
flowers, and the crisp rustle of little waves swim- 
ming almost to his feet. Far out, where the sun- 
light fell, the smiling waters lay white and mys- 
terious in July gaze, giving him a queer feeling. 
But Lord Dennis, though he had his moments of 
poetic sentiment, was on the whole quite able to 
keep the sea in its proper place for after all it 

251 



THE PATRICIAN 

was the English Channel; and like a good Eng- 
lishman he recognised that if you once let things 
get away from their names, they ceased to be 
facts, and if they ceased to be facts, they became 
the devil ! In truth he was not thinking much 
of the sea, but of Barbara. It was plain that she 
was in trouble of some kind. And the notion that 
Babs could find trouble in life was extraordi- 
narily queer; for he felt, subconsciously, what a 
great driving force of disturbance was necessary 
to penetrate the hundred folds of the luxurious 
cloak enwrapping one so young and fortunate. It 
was not Death; therefore it must be Love; and he 
thought at once of that fellow with the red mous- 
taches. Ideas were all very well no one would 
object to as many as you liked, in their proper 
place the dinner-table, for example. But to fall 
in love, if indeed it were so, with a man who not 
only had ideas, but an inclination to live up to 
them, and on them, and on nothing else, seemed 
to Lord Dennis outre. 

She had followed him to the wall, and he 
looked at her dubiously. 

' To rest in the waters of Lethe, Babs ? By the 
way, seen anything of our friend Mr. Courtier? 
Very picturesque that Quixotic theory of life F 
And in saying that, his voice (like so many re- 
fined voices which have turned their backs on 
speculation) was triple-toned mocking at ideas, 

252 



THE PATRICIAN 

mocking at itself for mocking at ideas, yet show- 
ing plainly that at bottom it only mocked at it- 
self for mocking at ideas, because it would be, as 
it were, crude not to do so. 

But Barbara did not answer his question, and 
began to speak of other things. And all that after- 
noon and evening she talked away so lightly that 
Lord Dennis, but for his instinct, would have 
been deceived. 

That wonderful smiling mask the inscruta- 
bility of Youth was laid aside by her at night. 
Sitting at her window, under the moon, "a gold- 
bright moth slow-spinning up the sky/ 3 she 
watched the darkness hungrily, as though it were 
a great thought into whose heart she was trying 
to see. Now and then she stroked herself, getting 
strange comfort out of the presence of her body. 
She had that old unhappy feeling of having two 
selves within her. And this soft night full of the 
quiet stir of the sea, and of dark immensity, woke 
in her a terrible longing to be at one with some- 
thing, somebody, outside herself. At the Ball last 
night the '* fly ing feeling >: had seized on her 
again; and was still there a queer manifestation 
of her streak of recklessness. And this result of 
her contacts with Courtier, this cacoethes volandi, 
and feeling of clipped wings, hurt her as being 
forbidden hurts a child. 

She remembered how in the housekeeper's 

253 



THE PATRICIAN 

room at Monkland there lived a magpie who had 
once sought shelter in an orchid-house from some 
pursuer. As soon as they thought him wedded to 
civilisation, they had let him go, to see whether 
he would come back. For hours he had sat up in 
a high tree, and at last come down again to his 
cage; whereupon, fearing lest the rooks should 
attack him when he next took this voyage of 
discovery, they clipped one of his wings. After 
that the twilight bird, though he lived happily 
enough, hopping about his cage and the terrace 
which served him for exercise yard, would seem 
at times restive and frightened, moving his wings 
as if flying in spirit, and sad that he must stay 
on earth. 

So, too, at her window Barbara fluttered her 
wings; then, getting into bed, lay sighing and 
tossing. A clock struck three; and seized by an 
intolerable impatience at her own discomfort, she 
slipped a motor coat over her night-gown, put on 
slippers, and stole out into the passage. The 
house was very still. She crept downstairs, smoth- 
ering her footsteps. Groping her way through the 
hall, inhabited by the thin ghosts of would-be 
light, she slid back the chain of the door, and fled 
towards the sea. She made no more noise running 
in the dew, than a bird following the paths of air; 
and the two ponies, who felt her figure pass in the 

254 



THE PATRICIAN 

darkness, snuffled, sending out soft sighs of 
alarm amongst the closed buttercups. She 
climbed the wall over to the beach. While she was 
running, she had fully meant to dash into the sea 
and cool herself, but it was so black, with just a 
thin edging scarf of white, and the sky was black, 
bereft of lights, waiting for the day ! 

She stood, and looked. And all the leapings and 
pulsings of flesh and spirit slowly died in that 
wide dark loneliness, where the only sound was 
the wistful breaking of small waves. She was well 
used to these dead hours only last night, at this 
very time, Harbinger's arm had been round her 
in a last waltz ! But here the dead hours had such 
different faces, wide-eyed, solemn; and there 
came to Barbara, staring out at them, a sense 
that the darkness saw her very soul, so that it 
felt little and timid within her. She shivered in 
her fur-lined coat, as if almost frightened at find- 
ing herself so marvellously nothing before that 
black sky and dark sea, which seemed all one, 
relentlessly great. And crouching down, she 
waited for the dawn to break. 

It came from over the Downs, sweeping a rush 
of cold air on its wings, flighting towards the sea. 
With it the daring soon crept back into her blood. 
She stripped, and ran down into the dark water, 
fast growing pale. It covered her jealously, and 



THE PATRICIAN 

she set to work to swim. The water was warmer 
than the air. She lay on her back and splashed, 
watching the sky flush. To bathe like this in the 
half-dark, with her hair floating out, and no wet 
clothes clinging to her limbs, gave her the joy of a 
child doing a naughty thing. She swam out of her 
depth, then scared at her own adventure, swam 
in again as the sun rose. 

She dashed into her two garments, climbed the 
wall, and scurried back to the house. All her de- 
jection, and feverish uncertainty were gone; she 
felt keen, fresh, terribly hungry, and stealing into 
the dark dining-room, began rummaging for food. 
She found biscuits, and was still munching, when 
in the open doorway she saw Lord Dennis, a pis- 
tol in one hand and a lighted candle in the other. 
With his carved features and white beard above 
an old blue dressing-gown, he looked impressive, 
having at the moment a distinct resemblance to 
Lady Casterley, as though danger had armoured 
him in steel. 

'You call this resting!' he said, dryly; then, 
looking at her drowned hair, added : " I see you 
have already entrusted your trouble to the 
waters of Lethe.' 3 

But without answer Barbara vanished into the 
dim hall and up the stairs. 



256 




CHAPTER IV 

HILE Barbara was swimming to 
meet the dawn, Miltoun was 
^ bathing in those waters of man- 
suetude and truth which roll from 



wall to wall in the British House 
of Commons. 

In that long debate on the Land question, for 
which he had waited to make his first speech, he 
had already risen nine times without catching 
the Speaker's eye, and slowly a sense of unreality 
was creeping over him. Surely this great Cham- 
ber, where without end rose the small sound of a 
single human voice, and queer mechanical bursts 
of approbation and resentment, did not exist at 
all but as a gigantic fancy of his own ! And all 
these figures were figments of his brain ! And 
when he at last spoke, it would be himself alone 
that he addressed ! The torpid air tainted with 
human breath, the unwinking stare of the count- 
less lights, the long rows of seats, the queer dis- 
tant rounds of pale listening flesh perched up so 
high, they were all emanations of himself! Even 
the coming and going in the gangway was but the 
coming and going of little wilful parts of him ! 

257 



THE PATRICIAN 

And rustling deep down in this Titanic creature 
of his fancy was the murmuration of his own un- 
spoken speech, sweeping away the puff balls of 
words flung up by that far-away, small, varying 
voice. 

Then, suddenly all that dream creature had 
vanished; he was on his feet, with a thumping 
heart, speaking. 

Soon he had no tremors, only a dim conscious- 
ness that his words sounded strange, and a queer 
icy pleasure in flinging them out into the silence. 
Round him there seemed no longer men, only 
mouths and eyes. And he had enjoyment in the 
feeling that with these words of his he was hold- 
ing those hungry mouths and eyes dumb and un- 
moving. Then he knew that he had reached the 
end of what he had to say, and sat down, re- 
maining motionless in the centre of a various 
sound, staring at the back of the head in front 
of him, with his hands clasped round his knee. 
And soon, when that little far-away voice was 
once more speaking, he took his hat, and glancing 
neither to right nor left, went out. 

Instead of the sensation of relief and wild ela- 
tion which fills the heart of those who have taken 
the first plunge, Miltoun had nothing in his deep 
dark well but the waters of bitterness. In truth, 
with the delivery of that speech he had but 

258 



THE PATRICIAN 

parted with what had been a sort of anodyne to 
suffering. He had only put the fine point on his 
conviction, of how vain was his career now that 
he could not share it with Audrey Noel. He 
walked slowly towards the Temple, along the 
riverside, where the lamps were paling into noth- 
ingness before that daily celebration of Divinity, 
the meeting of dark and light. 

For Miltoun was not one of those who take 
things lying down; he took things desperately, 
deeply, and with revolt. He took them like a 
rider riding himself, plunging at the dig of his 
own spurs, chafing and wincing at the cruel tugs 
of his own bitt; bearing in his friendless, proud 
heart all the burden of struggles which shallower 
or more genial natures shared with others. 

He looked hardly less haggard, walking home, 
than some of those homeless ones who slept 
nightly by the river, as though they knew that 
to lie near one who could so readily grant oblivion 
alone could save them from seeking that con- 
solation. He was perhaps unhappier than they, 
whose spirits, at all events, had long ceased to 
worry them, having oozed out from their bodies 
under the foot of Life. 

Now that Audrey Noel was lost to him, her 
loveliness and that indescribable quality which 
made her lovable, floated before him, the very 

259 



THE PATRICIAN 

torture-flowers of a beauty never to be grasped 
yet, that he could grasp, if he only would ! That 
was the heart and fervour of his suffering. To be 
grasped if he only would ! He was suffering, too, 
physically from a kind of slow fever, the result 
of his wetting on the day when he last saw her. 
And through that latent fever, things and feel- 
ings, like his sensations in the House before his 
speech, were all as it were muffled in a horrible 
way, as if they all came to him wrapped in a sort 
of flannel coating, through which he could not 
cut. And all the time there seemed to be within 
him two men at mortal grips with one another; 
the man of faith in divine sanction and authority, 
on which all his beliefs had hitherto hinged, and a 
desperate warm-blooded hungry creature. He 
was very miserable, craving strangely for the so- 
ciety of someone who could understand what he 
was feeling, and, from long habit of making no 
confidants, not knowing how to satisfy that 
craving. 

It was dawn when he reached his rooms; and, 
sure that he would not sleep, he did not even go 
to bed, but changed his clothes, made himself 
some coffee, and sat down at the window which 
overlooked the flowered courtyard. 

In Middle Temple Hall a Ball was still in 
progress, though the glamour from its Chinese 

260 



THE PATRICIAN 

lanterns was already darkened and gone. Miltoun 
saw a man and a girl, sheltered by an old foun- 
tain, sitting out their last dance. Her head had 
sunk on her partner's shoulder; their lips were 
joined. And there floated up to the window the 
scent of heliotrope, with the tune of the waltz 
that those two should have been dancing. This 
couple so stealthily enlaced, the gleam of their 
furtively turned eyes, the whispering of their lips, 
that stony niche below the twittering sparrows, 
so cunningly sought out it was the world he had 
abjured! When he looked again, they like a 
vision seen had stolen away and gone; the 
music too had ceased, there was no scent of helio- 
trope. In the stony niche crouched a stray cat 
watching the twittering sparrows. 

Miltoun went out, and, turning into the empty 
Strand, walked on without heeding where, till 
towards five o'clock he found himself on Putney 
Bridge. 

He rested there, leaning over the parapet, look- 
ing down at the grey water. The sun was just 
breaking through the heat haze; early waggons 
were passing, and already men were coming in to 
work. To what end did the river wander up and 
down; and a human river flow across it twice 
every day? To what end were men and women 
suffering? Of the full current of this life Miltoun 

261 



THE PATRICIAN 

could no more see the aim, than that of the wheel- 
ing gulls in the early sunlight. 

Leaving the bridge he made towards Barnes 
Common. The night was still ensnared there on 
the gorse bushes grey with cobwebs and starry 
dewdrops. He passed a tramp family still sleep- 
ing, huddled all together. Even the homeless lay 
in each other's arms ! 

From the Common he emerged on the road 
near the gates of Ravensham; turning in there, 
he found his way to the kitchen garden, and sat 
down on a bench close to the raspberry bushes. 
They were protected from thieves, but at Mil- 
toun's approach two blackbirds flustered out 
through the netting and flew away. 

His long figure resting so motionless impressed 
itself on the eyes of a gardener, who caused a re- 
port to be circulated that his young lordship was 
in the fruit garden. It reached the ears of Clifton, 
who himself came out to see what this might 
mean. The old man took his stand in front of 
Miltoun very quietly. 

'You have come to breakfast, my lord?' 
'If my grandmother will have me, Clif- 
ton." 

' I understood your lordship was speaking last 
night." 

"I was." 

262 



THE PATRICIAN 



! You find the House of Commons satisfactory, 
I hope/' 

'Fairly, thank you, Clifton.' 3 
'They are not what they were in the great 
days of your grandfather, I believe. He had a 
very good opinion of them. They vary, no 
doubt." 

'Tempora mutantur." 

'That is so. I find quite a new spirit towards 
public affairs. The ha'penny Press; one takes it 
in, but one hardly approves. I shall be anxious to 
read your speech. They say a first speech is a 
great strain." 
" It is rather." 

'But you had no reason to be anxious. I'm sure 
it was beautiful." 

Miltoun saw that the old man's thin sallow 
cheeks had flushed to a deep orange between his 
snow-white whiskers. 

' I have looked forward to this day," he stam- 
mered, 'ever since I knew your lordship 
twenty-eight years. It is the beginning.' 5 
"Or the end, Clifton." 

The old man's face fell in a look of deep and 
concerned astonishment. 

'No, no," he said; 'with your antecedents, 
never." 

Miltoun took his hand. 

263 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Sorry, Clifton didn't mean to shock you." 

And for a minute neither spoke, looking at 
their clasped hands as if surprised. 

'Would your lordship like a bath breakfast 
is still at eight. I can procure you a razor." 

When Miltoun entered the breakfast room, his 
grandmother, with a copy of the Times in her 
hands, was seated before a grape fruit, which, 
with a shredded wheat biscuit, constituted her 
first meal. Her appearance hardly warranted Bar- 
bara's description of "terribly well"; in truth she 
looked a little white, as if she had been feeling the 
heat. But there was no lack of animation in her 
little steel-grey eyes, nor of decision in her man- 
ner. 

"I see," she said, "that you've taken a line of 
your own, Eustace. I've nothing to say against 
that; in fact, quite the contrary. But remember 
this, my dear, however you may change, you 
mustn't wobble. Only one thing counts in that 
place, hitting the same nail on the head with the 
same hammer all the time. You aren't looking at 
all well." 

Miltoun, bending to kiss her, murmured: 

"Thanks, I'm all right." 

"Nonsense," replied Lady Casterley. 'They 
don't look after you. Was your mother in the 
House?" 

264 



THE PATRICIAN 

"I don't think so." 

"Exactly. And what is Barbara about? She 
ought to be seeing to you." 

"Barbara is down with Uncle Dennis." 

Lady Casterley set her jaw; then looking her 
grandson through and through, said: 

" I shall take you down there this very day. I 
shall have the sea to you. What do you say, 
Clifton?" 

"His lordship does look pale." 

'Have the carriage, and we'll go from Clap- 
ham Junction. Thomas can go in and fetch you 
some clothes. Or, better, though I dislike them, 
we can telephone to your mother for a car. It's 
very hot for trains. Arrange that, please, Clif- 
ton!" 

To this project Miltoun raised no objection. 
And all through the drive he remained sunk in an 
indifference and lassitude which to Lady Caster- 
ley seemed in the highest degree ominous. For 
lassitude, to her, was the strange, the unpardon- 
able, state. The little great lady casket of the 
aristocratic principle was permeated to the very 
backbone with the instinct of artificial energy, of 
that alert vigour which those who have nothing 
socially to hope for are forced to develop, lest 
they should decay and be again obliged to hope. 
To speak honest truth, she could not forbear an 

265 



THE PATRICIAN 

itch to run some sharp and foreign substance into 
her grandson, to rouse him somehow, for she 
knew the reason of his state, and was tempera- 
mentally out of patience with such a cause for 
backsliding. Had it been any other of her grand- 
children she would not have hesitated, but there 
was that in Miltoun which held even Lady Cas- 
terley in check, and only once during the four 
hours of travel did she attempt to break down 
his reserve. She did it in a manner very soft for 
her was he not of all living things the hope and 
pride of her heart ? Tucking her little thin sharp 
hand under his arm, she said quietly: 

"My dear, don't brood over it. That will never 
do." 

But Miltoun removed her hand gently, and 
laid it back on the dust rug, nor did he answer, or 
show other sign of having heard. 

And Lady Casterley, deeply wounded, pressed 
her faded lips together, and said sharply: 

"Slower, please, Frith!' 



266 




CHAPTER V 

T was to Barbara that Miltoun un- 
folded, if but little, the trouble of 
his spirit, lying that same after- 
noon under a ragged tamarisk 
hedge with the tide far out. He 
could never have done this if there had not been 
between them the accidental revelation of that 
night at Monkland; nor even then perhaps had he 
not felt in this young sister of his the warmth of 
life for which he was yearning. In such a matter 
as love Barbara was the elder of these two. For, 
besides the motherly knowledge of the heart 
peculiar to most women, she had the inherent 
woman-of-the-worldliness to be expected of a 
daughter of Lord and Lady Valleys. If she her- 
self were in doubt as to the state of her affections, 
it was not as with Miltoun, on the score of the 
senses and the heart, but on the score of her spirit 
and curiosity, which Courtier had awakened and 
caused to flap their wings a little. She worried 
over Miltoun's forlorn case; it hurt her, too, to 
think of Mrs. Noel eating her heart out in that 
lonely cottage. A sister so good and earnest as 
Agatha had ever inclined Barbara to a rebellious 

267 



THE PATRICIAN 

view of morals, and disinclined her altogether to 
religion. And so, she felt that if those two could 
not be happy apart, they should be happy to- 
gether, in the name of all the joy there was in 
life ! 

And while her brother lay face to the sky under 
the tamarisks, she kept trying to think of how to 
console him, conscious that she did not in the 
least understand the way he thought about 
things. Over the fields behind, the larks were 
hymning the promise of the unripe corn; the fore- 
shore was painted all colours, from vivid green to 
mushroom pink; by the edge of the blue sea little 
black figures stooped, gathering samphire. The 
air smelled sweet in the shade of the tamarisk; 
there was ineffable peace. And Barbara, covered 
by the network of sunlight, could not help im- 
patience with a suffering which seemed to her so 
corrigible by action. At last she ventured: 
'Life is short, Eusty !' : 

Miltoun's answer, given without movement, 
startled her. 

' Persuade me that it is, Babs, and I'll bless 
you. If the singing of these larks means nothing, 
if that blue up there is a morass of our invention, 
if we are pettily creeping on furthering nothing, 
if there's no purpose in our lives, persuade me of 
it, for God's sake!' 

268 



THE PATRICIAN 

Carried suddenly beyond her depth, Barbara 
could only put out her hand, and say: "Oh ! don't 
take things so hard !' 

' Since you say that life is short," Miltoun 
muttered, with his smile, "you shouldn't spoil it 
by feeling pity ! In old days we went to the Tower 
for our convictions. We can stand a little private 
roasting, I hope; or has the sand run out of us 
altogether?" 

Stung by his tone, Barbara answered in rather 
a hard voice: 

'What we must bear, we must, I suppose. But 
why should we make trouble? That's what I can't 
stand!" 

*O profound wisdom !' : 

Barbara flushed. 

"I love Life! "she said. 

The galleons of the westering sun were already 
sailing in a broad gold fleet straight for that fore- 
shore where the little black stooping figures had 
not yet finished their toil, the larks still sang over 
the unripe corn when Harbinger, galloping 
along the sands from Whitewater to Sea House, 
came on that silent couple walking home to din- 
ner. 

It would not be safe to say of this young man 
that he readily diagnosed a spiritual atmosphere, 
but this was the less his demerit, since everything 

269 



THE PATRICIAN 

from his cradle up had conspired to keep the 
spiritual thermometer of his surroundings at 60 
in the shade. And the fact that his own spiritual 
thermometer had now run up so that it threat- 
ened to burst the bulb, rendered him less likely 
than ever to see what was happening with other 
people's. Yet he did notice that Barbara was 
looking pale, and it seemed sweeter than ever. 
With her eldest brother he always somehow felt 
ill at ease. He could not exactly afford to despise 
an uncompromising spirit in one of his own order, 
but he was no more impervious than others to 
Miltoun's caustic, thinly-veiled contempt for the 
commonplace; and having a full-blooded belief in 
himself usual with men of fine physique, whose 
lots are so cast that this belief can never or al- 
most never be really shaken he greatly disliked 
the feeling of being a little looked down on. It 
was an intense relief, when, saying that he 
wanted a certain magazine, Miltoun strode off 
into the town. 

To Harbinger, no less than to Miltoun and 
Barbara, last night had been bitter and restless. 
The sight of that pale swaying figure, with the 
parted lips, whirling round in Courtier's arms, 
had clung to his vision ever since the Ball. Dur- 
ing his own last dance with her he had been al- 
most savagely silent; only by a great effort re- 

270 



THE PATRICIAN 

straining his tongue from mordant allusions to 
that 'prancing, red-haired fellow/ as he secretly 
called the champion of lost causes. In fact, his 
sensations then and since had been a revelation, 
or would have been if he could have stood apart 
to see them. True, he had gone about next day 
with his usual cool, off-hand manner, because one 
naturally did not let people see, but it was with 
such an inner aching and rage of want and jeal- 
ousy as to really merit pity. Men of his physically 
big, rather rushing, type, are the last to possess 
their souls in patience. Walking home after the 
Ball he had determined to follow her down to the 
sea, where she had said, so maliciously, that she 
was going. After a second almost sleepless night 
he had no longer any hesitation. He must see her ! 
After all, a man might go to his own ' place >: 
with impunity; he did not care if it were a pointed 
thing to do. Pointed ! The more pointed the bet- 
ter ! There was beginning to be roused in him an 
ugly stubbornness of male determination. She 
should not escape him ! 

But now that he was walking at her side, all 
that determination and assurance melted to per- 
plexed humility. He marched along by his horse 
with his head down, just feeling the ache of being 
so close to her and yet so far; angry with his own 
silence and awkwardness, almost angry with her 

271 



THE PATRICIAN 

for her loveliness, and the pain it made him suf- 
fer. When they reached the house, and she left 
him at the stable-yard, saying she was going to 
get some flowers, he jerked the beast's bridle and 
swore at it for its slowness in entering the stable. 
He was terrified that she would be gone before he 
could get into the garden; yet half afraid of find- 
ing her there. But she was still plucking carna- 
tions by the box hedge which led to the conserva- 
tories. And as she rose from gathering those 
blossoms, before he knew what he was doing, 
Harbinger had thrown his arm round her, held 
her as in a vice, kissed her unmercifully. 

She seemed to offer no resistance, her smooth 
cheeks growing warmer and warmer, even her 
lips passive; but suddenly he recoiled, and his 
heart stood still at his own outrageous daring. 
What had he done? He saw her leaning back 
almost buried in the clipped box hedge, and 
heard her say with a sort of faint mockery: 
"Well!" 

He would have flung himself down on his knees 
to ask for pardon but for the thought that some- 
one might come. He muttered hoarsely: 'By 
God, I was mad !" and stood glowering in sullen 
suspense between hardihood and fear. He heard 
her say, quietly: 

c Yes, you were rather." 

272 



THE PATRICIAN 

Then seeing her put her hand up to her lips as 
if he had hurt them, he muttered brokenly: 
'Forgive me, Babs F 

There was a full minute's silence while he stood 
there, no longer daring to look at her, beaten all 
over by his emotions. Then, with bewilderment, 
he heard her say : 

" I didn't mind it for once!" 

He looked up at that. How could she love him, 
and speak so coolly ! How could she not mind, if 
she did not love him ! She was passing her hands 
over her face and neck and hair, repairing the 
damage of his kisses. 

'Now shall we go in?" she said. 

Harbinger took a step forward. 
'I love you so," he said; "I will put my life in 
your hands, and you shall throw it away." 

At those words, of whose exact nature he had 
very little knowledge, he saw her smile. 

' If I let you come within three yards, will you 
be good?' 

He bowed; and, in silence, they walked to- 
wards the house. 

Dinner that evening was a strange, uncom- 
fortable meal. But its comedy, too subtly played 
for Miltoun and Lord Dennis, seemed trans- 
parent to the eyes of Lady Casterley; for, when 
Harbinger had sallied forth to ride back along the 

273 



THE PATRICIAN 

sands, she took her candle and invited Barbara 
to retire. Then, having admitted her grand- 
daughter to the apartment always reserved for 
herself, and specially furnished with practically 
nothing, she sat down opposite that tall, young, 
solid figure, as it were taking stock of it, and said : 

'So you are coming to your senses, at all 
events. Kiss me !' 

Barbara, stooping to perform this rite, saw a 
tear stealing down the carved fine nose. Knowing 
that to notice it would be too dreadful, she raised 
herself, and went to the window. There, staring 
out over the dark fields and dark sea, by the side 
of which Harbinger was riding home, she put her 
hand up to her lips, and thought for the hun- 
dredth time: 

'So that's what it's like!' 



274 




CHAPTER VI 

[HREE days after his first, and as 
he promised himself, his last So- 
ciety Ball, Courtier received a 
note from Audrey Noel, saying 
that she had left Monkland for 
the present, and come up to a little flat on the 
riverside not far from Westminster. 

When he made his way there that same July 
day, the Houses of Parliament were bright under 
a sun which warmed all the grave air emanating 
from their counsels of perfection. Courtier passed 
by dubiously. His feelings in the presence of those 
towers were always a little mixed. There was not 
so much of the poet in him as to cause him to see 
nothing there at all save only some lines against 
the sky, but there was enough of the poet to 
make him long to kick something; and in this 
mood he wended his way to the riverside. 

Mrs. Noel was not at home, but since the maid 
informed him that she would be in directly, he 
sat down to wait. Her flat, which was on the first 
floor, overlooked the river, and had evidently- 
been taken furnished, for there were visible 
marks of a recent struggle with an Edwardian 

275 



THE PATRICIAN 

taste which, flushed from triumph over Victori- 
anism, had filled the rooms with early Georgian 
remains. On the only definite victory, a rose- 
coloured window seat of great comfort and little 
age, Courtier sat down, and resigned himself to 
doing nothing with the ease of an old soldier. 

To the protective feeling he had once had for a 
very graceful, dark-haired child, he joined not 
only the championing pity of a man of warm 
heart watching a woman in distress, but the im- 
patience of one, who, though temperamentally 
incapable of feeling oppressed himself, rebelled at 
sight of all forms of tyranny affecting others. 

The sight of the grey towers, still just visible, 
under w r hich Miltoun and his father sat, annoyed 
him deeply; symbolising to him, Authority foe 
to his deathless mistress, the sweet, invincible 
lost cause of Liberty. But presently the river, 
bringing up in flood the unbound water that had 
bathed every shore, touched all sands, and seen 
the lighting and fading of each mortal star, so 
soothed him with its soundless hymn to Free- 
dom, that Audrey Noel coming in w r ith her hands 
full of flowers, found him sleeping firmly, with 
his mouth shut. 

Noiselessly putting down the flowers, she 
waited for his awakening. That sanguine visage, 
with its prominent chin, flaring moustaches, and 

276 



THE PATRICIAN 

eyebrows raised rather V-shaped above his 
closed eyes, wore an expression of cheery defiance 
even in sleep; and perhaps no face in all London 
was so utterly its obverse, as that of this dark, 
soft-haired woman, delicate, passive, and trem- 
ulous with pleasure at sight of the only person 
in the world from w r hom she felt she might learn 
of Miltoun, without losing her self-respect. 

He woke at last, and manifesting no discom- 
fiture, said: 

'It was like you not to wake me." 

They sat for a long while talking, the riverside 
traffic drowsily accompanying their voices, the 
flowers drowsily filling the room with scent; and 
when Courtier left, his heart was sore. She had 
not spoken of herself at all, but had talked nearly 
all the time of Barbara, praising her beauty and 
high spirit; growing pale once or twice, and evi- 
dently drinking in with secret avidity every allu- 
sion to Miltoun. Clearly, her feelings had not 
changed, though she would not show them ! 
Courtier's pity for her became well nigh violent. 

It was in such a mood, mingled with very dif- 
ferent feelings, that he donned evening clothes 
and set out to attend the last gathering of the 
season at Valleys House, a function which, held 
so late in July, was perforce almost perfectly 
political. 

277 



THE PATRICIAN 

Mounting the wide and shining staircase, that 
had so often baffled the arithmetic of little Ann, 
he was reminded of a picture entitled "The Steps 
to Heaven," in his nursery four-and-thirty years 
before. At the top of this staircase, and sur- 
rounded by acquaintances, he came on Harbin- 
ger, who nodded curtly. The young man's hand- 
some face and figure appeared to Courtier's 
jaundiced eye more obviously successful and 
complacent than ever; so that he passed him by 
with a frown and manoeuvred his way towards 
Lady Valleys, whom he could perceive stationed, 
like a general, in a little cleared space, where to 
and fro flowed constant streams of people, like 
the rays of a star. She was looking her very best, 
going well with great and highly-polished spaces; 
and she greeted Courtier with a special cordi- 
ality of tone, which had in it, besides kindness 
towards one who must be feeling a strange bird, 
a certain diplomatic quality, compounded of de- 
sire, as it were, to "warn him off," and fear of 
saying something that might irritate and make 
him more dangerous. She had heard, she said, 
that he was bound for Persia; she hoped he was 
not going to try and make things more difficult 
there; then with the words: "So good of you to 
have come !" she became once more the centre of 
her battlefield. 

278 



THE PATRICIAN 

Perceiving that he was finished with, Courtier 
stood back against a wall and watched. Thus 
isolated, he was like a solitary cuckoo contem- 
plating the gyrations of a flock of rooks. Their 
motions seemed a little meaningless to one so far 
removed from all the fetishes and shibboleths 
of Westminster. He heard them discussing Mil- 
toun's speech, the real significance of which ap- 
parently had only just been grasped. The words 
'doctrinaire," 'extremist," came to his ears, to- 
gether with the saying 'a new force." People 
were evidently puzzled, disturbed, not pleased 
as if some star not hitherto accounted for had 
suddenly appeared among the proper constella- 
tions. 

Searching this crowd for Barbara, Courtier had 
all the time an uneasy sense of shame. What busi- 
ness had he to come amongst these people so 
strange to him, just for the sake of seeing her ! 
What business had he to be hankering after this 
girl at all, knowing in his heart that he could not 
stand the atmosphere she lived in for a week, and 
that she was utterly unsuited to any atmosphere 
that he could give her; to say nothing of the un- 
likelihood that he could flutter the pulses of one 
half his age ! 

A voice behind him said: 'Mr. Courtier!" 

He turned, and there was Barbara. 

279 



THE PATRICIAN 



'I want to talk to you about something seri- 
ous. Will you come into the picture gallery?' 

When at last they were close to a family group 
of Georgian Caradocs, and could as it were shut 
out the throng sufficiently for private speech, she 
began : 

'Miltoun's so horribly unhappy; I don't know 
what to do for him. He's making himself ill !' 

And she suddenly looked up in Courtier's face. 
She seemed to him very young, and touching, at 
that moment. Her eyes had a gleam of faith in 
them, like a child's eyes, as if she relied on him 
to straighten out this tangle, to tell her not only 
about Miltoun's trouble, but about all life, its 
meaning, and the secret of its happiness. And he 
said gently: 

"What can I do? Mrs. Noel is in Town. But 

that's no good, unless " Not knowing how to 

finish this sentence, he was silent. 

"I wish I were Miltoun," she muttered. 

At that quaint saying, Courtier was hard put 
to it not to take hold of the hands so close to him. 
This flash of rebellion in her had quickened all his 
blood. But she seemed to have seen what had 
passed in him, for her next speech was chilly. 

'It's no good; stupid of me to be worrying 
you." 

' It is quite impossible for you to worry me." 

280 



THE PATRICIAN 

Her eyes, lifted suddenly from her glove, 
looked straight into his. 

''Are you really going to Persia?' 

"Yes." 

'But I don't want you to, not yet !" and turn- 
ing suddenly, she left him. 

Strangely disturbed, Courtier remained mo- 
tionless, consulting the grave stare of the group 
of Georgian Caradocs. 

A voice said: 

'Good painting, isn't it?' 

Behind him was Lord Harbinger. And once 
more the memory of Lady Casterley 's words ; the 
memory of the two figures with joined hands on 
the balcony above the election crowd; all his 
latent jealousy of this handsome young Colossus, 
his animus against one whom he could, as it were, 
smell out to be always fighting on the winning 
side; all his consciousness too of what a lost cause 
his own was, his doubt whether he were honour- 
able to look on it as a cause at all, flared up in 
Courtier, so that his answer was a stare. On 
Harbinger's face, too, there had come a look of 
stubborn violence slowly working up towards the 
surface. 

"I said: 'Good, isn't it?' Mr. Courtier." 

"I heard you." 

'And you were pleased to answer?' 

281 



THE PATRICIAN 



'Nothing/ 3 

"With the civility which might be expected of 
your habits.' 5 

Coldly disdainful, Courtier answered: 

"If you want to say that sort of thing, please 
choose a place where I can reply to you," and 
turned abruptly on his heel. 

But he ground his teeth as he made his way out 
into the street. 

In Hyde Park the grass was parched and dew- 
less under a sky whose stars were veiled by the 
heat and dust haze. Never had Courtier so bit- 
terly wanted the sky's consolation the blessed 
sense of insignificance in the face of the night's 
dark beauty, which, dwarfing all petty rage and 
hunger, made men part of its majesty, exalted 
them to a sense of greatness. 



282 




CHAPTER VII 

T was past four o'clock the follow- 
ing day when Barbara issued from 
Valleys House on foot; clad in a 
pale buff frock, chosen for quiet- 
ness, she attracted every eye. 
Very soon entering a taxi-cab, she drove to the 
Temple, stopped at the Strand entrance, and 
walked down the little narrow lane into the 
heart of the Law. Its votaries were hurrying back 
from the Courts, streaming up from their Cham- 
bers for tea, or escaping desperately to Lord's or 
the Park young votaries, unbound as yet by the 
fascination of fame or fees. And each, as he 
passed, looked at Barbara, with his fingers itching 
to remove his hat, and a feeling that this was She. 
After a day spent amongst precedents and prac- 
tice, after six hours at least of trying to discover 
what chance A had of standing on his rights, 
or B had of preventing him, it was difficult to feel 
otherwise about that calm apparition like a 
golden slim tree walking. One of them, asked by 
her the way to Miltoun's staircase, preceded her 
with shy ceremony, and when she had vanished 
up those dusty stairs, lingered on, hoping that 

283 



THE PATRICIAN 

she might find her visitee out, and be obliged to 
return and ask him the way back. But she did 
not come, and he went sadly away, disturbed to 
the very bottom of all that he owned in fee sim- 
ple. 

In fact, no one answered Barbara's knock, and 
discovering that the door yielded, she walked 
through the lobby past the clerk's den, converted 
to a kitchen, into the sitting-room. It was empty. 
She had never been to Miltoun's rooms before, 
and she stared about her curiously. Since he did 
not practise, much of the proper gear was absent. 
The room indeed had a worn carpet, a few old 
chairs, and was lined from floor to ceiling with 
books. But the wall space between the windows 
was occupied by an enormous map of England, 
scored all over with figures and crosses; and be- 
fore this map stood an immense desk, on which 
were piles of double foolscap covered with Mil- 
toun's neat and rather pointed writing. Barbara 
examined them, puckering up her forehead; she 
knew that he was working at a book on the land 
question, but she had never realised that the 
making of a book required so much writing. 
Papers, too, and Blue Books littered a large 
bureau on which stood bronze busts of ^Eschylus 
and Dante. 

'What an uncomfortable place!' she thought. 

284 



THE PATRICIAN 

The room, indeed, had an atmosphere, a spirit, 
which depressed her horribly. Seeing a few 
flowers down in the court below, she had a long- 
ing to get out to them. Then behind her she 
heard the sound of someone talking. But there 
was no one in the room; and the effect of this dis- 
rupted soliloquy, which came from nowhere, was 
so uncanny, that she retreated to the door. The 
sound, as of two spirits speaking in one voice, 
grew louder, and involuntarily she glanced at the 
busts. They seemed quite blameless. Though the 
sound had been behind her when she was at 
the window, it was again behind her now that 
she was at the door; and she suddenly realised 
that it was issuing from a bookcase in the centre 
of the wall. Barbara had her father's nerve, and 
walking up to the bookcase she perceived that it 
had been affixed to, and covered, a door that was 
not quite closed. She pulled it towards her, and 
passed through. Across the centre of an unkempt 
bedroom Miltoun was striding, dressed only in 
his shirt and trousers. His feet were bare, and his 
head and hair dripping wet; the look on his thin 
dark face went to Barbara's heart. She ran for- 
ward, and took his hand. This was burning hot, 
but the sight of her seemed to have frozen his 
tongue and eyes. And the contrast of his burning 
hand with this frozen silence, frightened Barbara 

285 



THE PATRICIAN 

horribly. She could think of nothing but to put 
her other hand to his forehead. That too was 
burning hot ! 

'What brought you here?' he said. 

She could only murmur: 

"Oh! Eusty! Are you ill?" 

Miltoun took hold of her wrists. 

"It's all right, I've been working too hard; got 
a touch of fever." 

"So I can feel," murmured Barbara. 'You 
ought to be in bed. Come home with me." 

Miltoun smiled. "It's not a case for leeches." 

The look of his smile, the sound of his voice, 
sent a shudder through her. 

"I'm not going to leave you here alone." 

But Miltoun's grasp tightened on her wrists. 

"My dear Babs, you will do what I tell you. 
Go home, hold your tongue, and leave me to burn 
out in peace." 

Barbara sustained that painful grip without 
wincing; she had regained her calmness. 

"You must come ! You haven't anything here, 
not even a cool drink." 

"My God ! Barley water !" 

The scorn he put into those two words was 
more withering than a whole philippic against 
redemption by creature comforts. And, feeling 
it dart into her, Barbara closed her lips tight. He 

286 



THE PATRICIAN 

had dropped her wrists, and again begun pacing 
up and down; suddenly he stopped: 



4 



The stars, sun, moon all shrink away, 
A desert vast, without a bound, 

And nothing left to eat or drink, 
And a dark desert all around.' 



You should read your Blake, Audrey." 

Barbara turned quickly, and went out fright- 
ened. She passed through the sitting-room and 
corridor on to the staircase. He was ill raving ! 
The fever in Miltoun's veins seemed to have 
stolen through the clutch of his hands into her 
own veins. Her face was burning, she thought 
confusedly, breathed unevenly. She felt sore, and 
at the same time terribly sorry; and withal there 
kept rising in her the gusty memory of Harbin- 
ger's kiss. 

She hurried down the stairs, turned by in- 
stinct down-hill and found herself on the Em- 
bankment. And suddenly, with her inherent 
power of swift decision, she hailed a cab, and 
drove to the nearest telephone office. 



287 




CHAPTER VIII 

a woman like Audrey Noel, born 
to be the counterpart and comple- 
ment of another, whose occupa- 
tions and effort were inherently 
divorced from the continuity of 
any stiff and strenuous purpose of her own, the 
uprooting she had voluntarily undergone was a 
serious matter. 

Bereaved of the faces of her flowers, the 
friendly sighing of her lime-tree, the wants of her 
cottagers; bereaved of that busy monotony of 
little home things which is the stay and solace 
of lonely women, she was extraordinarily lost. 
Even music for review seemed to have failed her. 
She had never lived in London, so that she had 
not the refuge of old haunts and habits, but had 
to make her own and to make habits and haunts 
required a heart that could at least stretch out 
feelers and lay hold of things, and her heart was 
not now able. When she had struggled with her 
Edwardian flat, and laid down her simple routine 
of meals, she was as stranded as ever was con- 
vict let out of prison. She had not even that great 
support, the necessity of hiding her feelings for 

288 



THE PATRICIAN 

fear of disturbing others. She was planted there, 
with her longing and grief, and nothing, nobody, 
to take her out of herself. Having wilfully em- 
braced this position, she tried to make the best of 
it, feeling it less intolerable, at all events, than 
staying on at Monkland, where she had made 
that grievous, and unpardonable error falling 
in love. 

This offence, on the part of one who felt within 
herself a great capacity to enjoy and to confer 
happiness, had arisen like the other grievous 
and unpardonable offence, her marriage from 
too much disposition to yield herself to the per- 
sonality of another. But it was cold comfort to 
know that the desire to give and to receive love 
had twice over left her a dead woman. What- 
ever the nature of those immature sensations 
with which, as a girl of twenty, she had accepted 
her husband, in her feeling towards Miltoun 
there was not only abandonment, but the higher 
flame of self-renunciation. She wanted to do the 
best for him, and had not even the consolation 
of the knowledge that she had sacrificed herself 
for his advantage. All had been taken out of her 
hands ! Yet with characteristic fatalism she did 
not feel rebellious. If it were ordained that she 
should, for fifty, perhaps sixty years, repent in 
sterility and ashes that first error of her girlhood, 

289 



THE PATRICIAN 

rebellion was, none the less, too far-fetched. If 
she rebelled, it would not be in spirit, but in ac- 
tion. General principles were nothing to her; she 
lost no force brooding over the justice or injus- 
tice of her situation, but merely tried to digest 
its facts. 

The whole day, succeeding Courtier's visit, 
was spent by her in the National Gallery, whose 
roof, alone of all in London, seemed to offer her 
protection. She had found one painting, by an 
Italian master, the subject of which reminded 
her of Miltoun; and before this she sat for a very 
long time, attracting at last the gouty stare of an 
official. The still figure of this lady, with the oval 
face and grave beauty, both piqued his curiosity, 
and stimulated certain moral qualms. She was 
undoubtedly waiting for her lover. No woman, 
in his experience, had ever sat so long before a 
picture without ulterior motive; and he kept his 
eyes well opened to see what this motive would 
be like. It gave him, therefore, a sensation almost 
amounting to chagrin when coming round once 
more, he found they had eluded him and gone off 
together without coming under his inspection. 
Feeling his feet a good deal, for he had been on 
them all day, he sat down in the hollow which she 
had left behind her; and against his will found 
himself also looking at the picture. It was painted 

290 



THE PATRICIAN 

in a style he did not care for; the face of the sub- 
ject, too, gave him the queer feeling that the 
gentleman was being roasted inside. He had not 
been sitting there long, however, before he per- 
ceived the lady standing by the picture, and the 
lips of the gentleman in the picture moving. It 
seemed to him against the rules and he got up at 
once, and went towards it; but as he did so, he 
found that his eyes were shut, and opened them 
hastily. There was no one there. 

From the National Gallery, Audrey had gone 
into an A.B.C. for tea, and then home. Before the 
Mansions was a taxi-cab, and the maid met her 
with the news that "Lady Caradog" was in the 
sitting-room. 

Barbara was indeed standing in the middle of 
the room with a look on her face such as her 
father wore sometimes on the racecourse, in the 
hunting field, or at stormy Cabinet Meetings; a 
look both resolute and sharp. She spoke at once: 
*I got your address from Mr. Courtier. My 
brother is ill. I'm afraid it'll be brain fever, I 
think you had better go and see him at his rooms 
in the Temple; there's no time to be lost." 

To Audrey everything in the room seemed to 
go round; yet all her senses were preternaturally 
acute, so that she could distinctly smell the mud 
of the river at low tide. She said, with a shudder: 

291 



THE PATRICIAN 



"Oh! I will go; yes, I will go at once. 53 

'He's quite alone. He hasn't asked for you; 
but I think your going is the only chance. He 
took me for you. You told me once you were a 
good nurse/ 5 

"Yes." 

The room was steady enough now, but she had 
lost the preternatural acuteness of her senses, and 
felt confused. She heard Barbara say: " I can take 
you to the door in my cab," and murmuring: "I 
will get ready," went into her bedroom. For a mo- 
ment she was so utterly bewildered that she did 
nothing. Then every other thought was lost in a 
strange, soft, almost painful delight, as if some 
new instinct were being born in her; and quickly, 
but without confusion or hurry, she began pack- 
ing. She put into a valise her own toilet things; 
then flannel, cotton-wool, eau de Cologne, hot- 
water bottle, Etna, shawls, thermometer, every- 
thing she had which could serve in illness. Chang- 
ing to a plain dress, she took up the valise and re- 
turned to Barbara. They went out together to 
the cab. The moment it began to bear her to this 
ordeal at once so longed-for and so terrible, fear 
came over her again, so that she screwed herself 
into the corner, very white and still. She was 
aware of Barbara calling to the driver: 'Go by 
the Strand, and stop at a poulterer's for ice! 5 

292 



THE PATRICIAN 

And, when the bag of ice had been handed in, 
heard her saying : - ' I will bring you all you want 
if he is really going to be ill." 

Then, as the cab stopped, and the open door- 
way of the staircase was before her, all her cour- 
age came back. 

She felt the girl's warm hand against her own, 
and grasping her valise and the bag of ice, got 
out, and hurried up the steps. 



293 




CHAPTER IX 

!N leaving Nettlefold, Miltoun had 
gone straight back to his rooms, 
and begun at once to work at his 
book on the land question. He 
worked all through that night 
his third night without sleep, and all the follow- 
ing day. In the evening, feeling queer in the head, 
he went out and walked up and down the Em- 
bankment. Then, fearing to go to bed and lie 
sleepless, he sat down in his arm-chair. Falling 
asleep there, he had fearful dreams, and awoke 
unrefreshed. After his bath, he drank coffee, and 
again forced himself to work. By the middle of 
the day he felt dizzy and exhausted, but utterly 
disinclined to eat. He went out into the hot 
Strand, bought himself a necessary book, and 
after drinking more coffee, came back and again 
began to work. At four o'clock he found that he 
was not taking in the words. His head was burn- 
ing hot, and he went into his bedroom to bathe it. 
Then somehow he began walking up and down, 
talking to himself, as Barbara had found him. 

She had no sooner gone, than he felt utterly 
exhausted. A small crucifix hung over his bed, 

294 



THE PATRICIAN 

and throwing himself down before it, he remained 
motionless with his face buried in the coverlet, 
and his arms stretched out towards the wall. He 
did not pray, but merely sought rest from sensa- 
tion. Across his half-hypnotised consciousness 
little threads of burning fancy kept shooting. 
Then he could feel nothing but utter physical 
sickness, and against this his will revolted. He 
resolved that he would not be ill, a ridiculous log 
for women to hang over. But the moments of 
sickness grew longer and more frequent; and to 
drive them away he rose from his knees, and for 
some time again walked up and down; then, 
seized with vertigo, he was obliged to sit on the 
bed to save himself from falling. From being 
burning hot he had become deadly cold, glad to 
cover himself with the bedclothes. The heat soon 
flamed up in him again; but with a sick man's 
instinct he did not throw off the clothes, and 
stayed quite still. The room seemed to have 
turned to a thick white substance like a cloud, in 
which he lay enwrapped, unable to move hand or 
foot. His sense of smell and hearing had become 
unnaturally acute; he smelled the distant streets, 
flowers, dust, and the leather of his books, even 
the scent left by Barbara's clothes, and a curious 
odour of river mud. A clock struck six, he counted 
each stroke; and instantly the whole world 

295 



THE PATRICIAN 

seemed full of striking clocks, the sound of 
horses' hoofs, bicycle bells, people's footfalls. 
His sense of vision, on the contrary, was absorbed 
in consciousness of this white blanket of cloud 
wherein he was lifted above the earth, in the 
midst of a dull incessant hammering. On the sur- 
face of the cloud there seemed to be forming a 
number of little golden spots; these spots were 
moving, and he saw that they were toads. Then, 
beyond them, a huge face shaped itself, very 
dark, as if of bronze, with eyes burning into his 
brain. The more he struggled to get away from 
these eyes, the more they bored and burned into 
him. His voice was gone, so that he was unable to 
cry out, and suddenly the face marched over him. 

When he recovered consciousness his head was 
damp with moisture trickling from something 
held to his forehead by a figure leaning above 
him. Lifting his hand he touched a cheek; and 
hearing a sob instantly suppressed he sighed. 
His hand was gently taken; he felt kisses on it. 

The room was so dark, that he could scarcely 
see her face his sight too was dim; but he could 
hear her breathing and the least sound of her 
dress and movements the scent too of her hands 
and hair seemed to envelop him, and in the midst 
of all the acute discomfort of his fever, he felt the 
band round his brain relax. He did not ask how 

296 



THE PATRICIAN 

long she had been there, but lay quite still, trying 
to keep his eyes on her, for fear of that face, 
which seemed lurking behind the air, ready to 
march on him again. Then feeling suddenly that 
he could not hold it back, he beckoned, and 
clutched at her, trying to cover himself with the 
protection of her breast. This time his swoon 
was not so deep; it gave away to delirium, with 
intervals when he knew that she was there, and 
by the shaded candle light could see her in a 
white garment, floating close to him, or sitting 
still with her hand on his ; he could even feel the 
faint comfort of the ice cap, and of the scent of 
eau de Cologne. Then he would lose all con- 
sciousness of her presence, and pass through into 
the incoherent world, where the crucifix above 
his bed seemed to bulge and hang out, as if it 
must fall on him. He conceived a violent longing 
to tear it down, which grew till he had struggled 
up in bed and wrenched it from off the wall. 
Yet a mysterious consciousness of her presence 
permeated even his darkest journeys into the 
strange land; and once she seemed to be with 
him, where a strange light showed them fields 
and trees, a dark line of moor, and a bright sea, 
all whitened, and flashing. 

Soon after dawn he had a long interval of con- 
sciousness, and took in with a sort of wonder her 

297 



THE PATRICIAN 

presence in the low chair by his bed. So still she 
sat in a white loose gown, pale from watching, her 
eyes immovably fixed on him, her lips pressed to- 
gether, and quivering at his faintest motion. He 
drank in desperately the sweetness of her face, 
which had so lost remembrance of self. 



298 




CHAPTER X 

iARBARA gave the news of her 
brother's illness to no one else, 
common sense telling her to run 
no risk of disturbance. Of her own 
initiative, she brought a doctor, 
and went down twice a day to hear reports of 
Miltoun's progress. 

As a fact, her father and mother had gone to 
Lord Dennis, for Goodwood, and the chief diffi- 
culty had been to excuse her own neglect of that 
favourite Meeting. She had fallen back on the 
half-truth that Eustace wanted her in Town; 
and, since Lord and Lady Valleys had neither of 
them shaken off a certain uneasiness about their 
son, the pretext sufficed. 

It was not until the sixth day, when the crisis 
was well past and Miltoun quite free from fever, 
that she again went down to Nettlefold. 

On arriving she at once sought out her mother, 
whom she found in her bedroom, resting. It had 
been very hot at Goodwood. 

Barbara was not afraid of her she was not, 
indeed, afraid of anyone, except Miltoun, and in 
some strange way a little perhaps of Courtier; 

299 



THE PATRICIAN 

yet, when the maid had gone, she did not at once 
begin her tale. Lady Valleys, who at Goodwood 
had just heard details of a Society scandal, be- 
gan a carefully expurgated account of it suitable 
to her daughter's ears for some account she felt 
she must give to somebody. 

"Mother/ 1 said Barbara suddenly, "Eustace 
has been ill. He's out of danger now, and going 
on all right." Then, looking hard at the bewil- 
dered lady, she added: 'Mrs. Noel is nursing 
him." 

The past tense in which illness had been men- 
tioned, checking at the first moment any rush of 
panic in Lady Valleys, left her confused by the 
situation conjured up in Barbara's last words. 
Instead of feeding that part of man which loves a 
scandal, she was being fed, always an unenviable 
sensation. A woman did not nurse a man under 
such circumstances without being everything to 
him, in the world's eyes. Her daughter went on: 

'I took her to him. It seemed the only thing 
to do since it's all through fretting for her. No- 
body knows, of course, except the doctor, and 
Stacey." 

'Heavens!' 1 ' muttered Lady Valleys. 

"It has saved him." 

The mother instinct in Lady Valleys took sud- 
den fright. "Are you telling me the truth, Babs? 

300 



THE PATRICIAN 

Is he really out of danger? How wrong of you not 
to let me know before !' 

But Barbara did not flinch; and her mother re- 
lapsed into rumination. 

'Stacey is a cat !" she said suddenly. The ex- 
purgated details of the scandal she had been re- 
tailing to her daughter had included the usual 
maid. She could not find it in her to enjoy the 
irony of this coincidence. Then, seeing Barbara 
smile, she said tartly: 

' I fail to see the joke/ 3 

'Only that I thought you'd enjoy my throwing 
Stacey in, dear." 

'What ! You mean she doesn't know?' 

"Not a word." 

Lady Valleys smiled. 

"What a little wretch you are, Babs!" Ma- 
liciously she added: 'Claud and his mother are 
coming over from Whitewater, with Bertie and 
Lily Malvezin; you'd better go and dress"; and 
her eyes searched her daughter's so shrewdly, 
that a flush rose to the girl's cheeks. 

When she had gone, Lady Valleys rang for her 
maid again, and relapsed into meditation. Her 
first thought was to consult her husband; her 
second that secrecy was strength. Since no one 
knew but Barbara, no one had better know. 

Her astuteness and experience comprehended 

301 



THE PATRICIAN 

the far-reaching probabilities of this affair. It 
would not do to take a single false step. If she had 
no one's action to control but her own and Bar- 
bara's, so much the less chance of a slip. Her 
mind was a strange medley of thoughts and feel- 
ings, almost comic, wellnigh tragic; of worldly 
prudence, and motherly instinct; of warm- 
blooded sympathy with all love-affairs, and cool- 
blooded concern for her son's career. It was not 
yet too late perhaps to prevent real mischief; 
especially since it was agreed by everyone that 
the woman was no adventuress. Whatever was 
done, they must not forget that she had nursed 
him saved him, Barbara had said ! She must be 
treated with all kindness and consideration. 

Hastening her toilette, she in turn went to her 
daughter's room. 

Barbara was already dressed, leaning out of 
her window towards the sea. 

Lady Valleys began almost timidly: 
'My dear, is Eustace out of bed yet?' 
'He was to get up to-day for an hour or two." 
' I see. Now, would there be any danger if you 
and I went up and took charge over from Mrs. 
Noel?" 

"PoorEusty!" 

c Yes, yes! But, exercise your judgment. 
Would it harm him?' 

302 



THE PATRICIAN 

Barbara was silent. "No," she said at last, "I 
don't suppose it would, now; but it's for the doc- 
tor to say." 

Lady Valleys exhibited a manifest relief. 

'We'll see him first, of course. Eustace will 
have to have an ordinary nurse, I suppose, for a 
bit." 

Looking stealthily at Barbara, she added: 

' I mean to be very nice to her; but one mustn't 
be romantic, you know, Babs." 

From the little smile on Barbara's lips she de- 
rived no sense of certainty; indeed she was visited 
by all her late disquietude about her young 
daughter, by all the feeling that she, as well as 
Miltoun, was hovering on the verge of some folly. 

'Well, my dear," she said, " I am going down." 

But Barbara lingered a little longer in that 
bedroom where ten nights ago she had Iain toss- 
ing, till in despair she went and cooled herself in 
the dark sea. Her last little interview with Cour- 
tier stood between her and a fresh meeting with 
Harbinger, whom at the Valleys House gathering 
she had not suffered to be alone with her. She 
came down late. 

That same evening, out on the beach road, un- 
der a sky swarming with stars, the people were 
strolling folk from the towns, down for their 
fortnight's holiday. In twos and threes, in parties 

303 



THE PATRICIAN 

of six or eight, they passed the wall at the end of 
Lord Dennis's little domain; and the sound of 
their sparse talk and laughter, together with the 
sighing of the young waves, was blown over the 
wall to the ears of Harbinger, Bertie, Barbara, 
and Lily Malvezin, when they strolled out after 
dinner to sniff the sea. The holiday-makers stared 
dully at the four figures in evening dress looking 
out above their heads; they had other things 
than these to think of, becoming more and more 
silent as the night grew dark. The four young 
people too were rather silent. There was some- 
thing in this warm night, with its sighing, and its 
darkness, and its stars, that was not favourable 
to talk, so that presently they split into couples, 
drifting a little apart. 

Standing there, gripping the wall, it seemed to 
Harbinger that there were no words left in the 
world. Not even his worst enemy could have 
called this young man romantic; yet that figure 
beside him, the gleam of her neck and her pale 
cheek in the dark, gave him perhaps the most 
poignant glimpse of mystery that he had ever 
had. His mind, essentially that of a man of af- 
fairs, by nature and by habit at home amongst 
the material aspects of things, was but gropingly 
conscious that here, in this dark night, and the 
dark sea, and the pale figure of this girl whose 

34 



THE PATRICIAN 

heart was dark to him and secret, there was per- 
haps something yes, something which sur- 
passed the confines of his philosophy, something 
beckoning him on out of his snug compound into 
the desert of divinity. If so, it was soon gone in 
the aching of his senses at the scent of her hair, 
and the longing to escape from this weird silence. 

'Babs," he said, "have you forgiven me?' 

Her answer came, without turn of head, nat- 
ural, indifferent: 

"Yes I told you so." 

'Is that all you have to say to a fellow?' 

'What shall we talk about the running of 
Casetta?' 

Deep down within him Harbinger uttered a 
noiseless oath. Something sinister was making 
her behave like this to him ! It was that fellow 
that fellow ! And suddenly he said : 

'Tell me this ' then speech seemed to 

stick in his throat. No ! If there were anything in 
that, he preferred not to hear it. There was a 
limit ! 

Down below, a pair of lovers passed, very 
silent, their arms round each other's waists. 

Barbara turned and walked away towards the 
house. 



305 



CHAPTER XI 




HE days when Miltoun was first 
allowed out of bed were a time of 
mingled joy and sorrow to her 
who had nursed him. To see him 
sitting up, amazed at his own 
weakness, was happiness, yet to think that he 
would be no more wholly dependent, no more 
that sacred thing, a helpless creature, brought 
her the sadness of a mother whose child no longer 

o 

needs her. With every hour he would now get 
farther from her, back into the fastnesses of his 
own spirit. With every hour she would be less his 
nurse and comforter, more the woman he loved. 
And though that thought shone out in the ob- 
scure future like a glamorous flower, it brought 
too much wistful uncertainty to the present. 
She was very tired, too, now that all excitement 
was over so tired that she hardly knew what 
she did or where she moved. But a smile had be- 
come so faithful to her eyes that it clung there 
above the shadows of fatigue, and kept taking 
her lips prisoner. 

Between the two bronze busts she had placed 

306 



THE PATRICIAN 

a bowl of lilies of the valley; and every free niche 
in that room of books had a little vase of roses to 
welcome Miltoun's return. 

He was lying back in his big leather chair, 
wrapped in a Turkish gown of Lord Valleys' 
on which Barbara had laid hands, having 
failed to find anything resembling a dressing- 
gown amongst her brother's austere clothing. 
The perfume of lilies had overcome the scent of 
books, and a bee, dusky adventurer, filled the 
room with his pleasant humming. 

They did not speak, but smiled faintly, look- 
ing at one another. In this still moment, before 
passion had returned to claim its own, their 
spirits passed through the sleepy air, and became 
entwined, so that neither could withdraw that 
soft, slow, encountering glance. In mutual con- 
tentment, each to each, close as music to the 
strings of a violin, their spirits clung so lost, 
the one in the other, that neither for that brief 
time seemed to know which was self. 

In fulfilment of her resolution, Ladv Vallevs, 

7 , ~ \J * 

who had returned to Town by a morning train, 
started with Barbara for the Temple about three 
in the afternoon, and stopped at the doctor's on 
the way. The whole thing would be much simpler 
if Eustace were fit to be moved at once to Val- 

307 



THE PATRICIAN 

leys House; and with much relief she found that 
the doctor saw no danger in this course. The re- 
covery had been remarkable touch and go for 
bad brain fever just avoided ! Lord Miltoun's 
constitution was extremely sound. Yes, he would 
certainly favour a removal. His rooms were too 
confined in this weather. Well nursed decided- 
ly ! Oh, yes ! Quite ! And the doctor's eyes became 
perhaps a trifle more intense. Not a professional, 
he understood. It might be as well to have an- 
other nurse, if they were making the change. 
They would have this lady knocking up. Just so ! 
Yes, he would see to that. An ambulance carriage 
he thought advisable. That could all be arranged 
for this afternoon at once he himself would 
look to it. They might take Lord Miltoun off just 
as he was; the men would know what to do. And 
when they had him at Valleys House, the mo- 
ment he showed interest in his food, down to the 
sea down to the sea ! At this time of year noth- 
ing like it ! Then with regard to nourishment, he 
would be inclined already to shove in a leetle 
stimulant, a thimbleful perhaps four times a day 
with food not without mixed with an egg, 
with arrowroot, with custard. A week would see 
him on his legs, a fortnight at the sea make him 
as good a man as ever. Overwork burning the 
candle a leetle more would have seen a very 

308 



THE PATRICIAN 

different state of things ! Quite so, quite so ! 
Would come round himself before dinner, and 
make sure. His patient might feel it just at first ! 
He bowed Lady Valleys out; and when she had 
gone, sat down at his telephone with a smile flick- 
ering on his clean-cut lips. 

Greatly fortified by this interview, Lady Val- 
leys rejoined her daughter in the car; but while 
it slid on amongst the multitudinous traffic, signs 
of unwonted nervousness began to start out 
through the placidity of her face. 

'I wish, my dear," she said suddenly, 'that 
someone else had to do this. Suppose Eustace re- 
fuses!" 

'He won't," Barbara answered; "she looks so 

tired, poor dear. Besides " 

Lady Valleys gazed with curiosity at that 
young face, which had flushed pink. Yes, this 
daughter of hers was a woman already, with all a 
woman's intuitions. She said gravely: 

' It was a rash stroke of yours, Babs; let's hope 
it won't lead to disaster.' 5 
Barbara bit her lips. 

'If you'd seen him as I saw him ! And, what 
disaster ! Mayn't they love each other, if they 
want?" 

Lady Valleys swallowed a grimace. It was so 
exactly her own point of view. And yet ! 

309 



THE PATRICIAN 



'That's only the beginning," she said; 'you 
forget the sort of boy Eustace is." 

'Why can't the poor thing be let out of her 
cage?" cried Barbara. "What good does it do to 
anyone? Mother, if ever, when I am married, I 
want to get free, I will !' 

The tone of her voice was so quivering, and 
unlike the happy voice of Barbara, that Lady 
Valleys involuntarily caught hold of her hand 
and squeezed it hard. 

"My dear sweet," she said, "don't let's talk of 
such gloomy things." 

'I mean it. Nothing shall stop me." 
But Lady Valleys' face had suddenly become 
rather grim. 

'So we think, child; it's not so simple." 

'It can't be worse, anyway," muttered Bar- 
bara, 'than being buried alive as that wretched 



woman is.' 



For answer Lady Valleys only murmured: 
'The doctor promised that ambulance car- 
riage at four o'clock. What am I going to 



O 

say? 



'She'll understand when you look at her. She's 
that sort." 

The door was opened to them by Mrs. Noel 
herself. 

It was the first time Lady Valleys had seen her 

310 



THE PATRICIAN 

in a house, and there was real curiosity mixed 
with the assurance which masked her nervous- 
ness. A pretty creature, even lovely ! But the 
quite genuine sympathy in her words: 'I am 
truly grateful. You must be quite worn out," did 
not prevent her adding hastily: "The doctor says 
he must be got home out of these hot rooms. 
We'll wait here while you tell him." 

And then she saw that it was true; this woman 
was the sort who understood. 

Left in the dark passage, she peered round at 
Barbara. 

The girl was standing against the wall with her 
head thrown back. Lady Valleys could not see 
her face; but she felt all of a sudden exceedingly 
uncomfortable, and whispered: 

Two murders and a theft, Babs; wasn't it 
'Our Mutual Friend'? 



1 iwo muraers ana 
rriena r ' 
"Mother!" 
"What?" 



'Her face ! When you're going to throw away 
a flower, it looks at you !' 

'My dear!' murmured Lady Valleys, thor- 
oughly distressed, 'what things you're saying 
to-day!" 

This lurking in a dark passage, this whispering 
girl it was all queer, unlike an experience in 
proper life. 



THE PATRICIAN 

And then through the reopened door she saw 
Miltoun, stretched out in a chair, very pale, but 
still with that look about his eyes and lips, which 
of all things in the world had a chastening effect 
on Lady Valleys, making her feel somehow in- 
curably mundane. 

She said rather timidly: 

'I'm so glad you're better, dear. What a time 
you must have had ! It's too bad that I knew 
nothing till yesterday ! ' 

But Miltoun's answer was, as usual, thor- 
oughly disconcerting. 

'Thanks, yes ! I have had a perfect time and 
have now to pay for it, I suppose." 

Held back by his smile from bending to kiss 
him, poor Lady Valleys fidgeted from head to 
foot. A sudden impulse of sheer womanliness 
caused a tear to fall on his hand. 

When Miltoun perceived that moisture, he 
said: 

'It's all right, Mother. I'm quite willing to 



come.' 



Still wounded by his voice, Lady Valleys hard- 
ened instantly. And while preparing for de- 
parture she watched the two furtively. They 
hardly looked at one another, and when they did, 
their eyes baffled her. The expression was out- 
side her experience, belonging as it were to a 



THE PATRICIAN 

different world, with its faintly smiling, almost 
shining, gravity. 

Vastly relieved when Miltoun, covered with a 
fur, had been taken down to the carriage, she 
lingered to speak to Mrs. Noel. 

'We owe you a great debt. It might have been 
so much worse. You mustn't be disconsolate. Go 
to bed and have a good long rest." And from the 
door, she murmured again: 'He will come and 
thank you, when he's well." 

Descending the stone stairs, she thought: 

' Anonyma'- ' Anonyma' yes, it was quite the 
name." And suddenly she saw Barbara come run- 
ning up again. 

"What is it, Babs?" 

Barbara answered: 

'Eustace would like some of those lilies." And, 
passing Lady Valleys, she went on up to Mil- 
toun's chambers. 

Mrs. Noel was not in the sitting-room, and 
going to the bedroom door, the girl looked in. 

She was standing by the bed, drawing her hand 
over and over the white surface of the pillow. 
Stealing noiselessly back, Barbara caught up the 
bunch of lilies, and fled. 



313 




CHAPTER XII 

ILTOUN, whose constitution had 
the steel-like quality of Lady Cas- 
terley's, had a very rapid conva- 
lescence. And, having begun to 
take an interest in his food, he was 
allowed to travel on the seventh day to Sea 
House in charge of Barbara. 

The two spent their time in a little summer- 
house close to the sea; lying out on the beach un- 
der the groynes; and, as Miltoun grew stronger, 
motoring and walking on the Downs. 

To Barbara, keeping a close watch, he seemed 
tranquilly enough drinking in from Nature what 
was necessary to restore balance after the strug- 
gle and breakdown of the past weeks. Yet she 
could never get rid of a queer feeling that he was 
not really there at all; to look at him was like 
watching an uninhabited house that was waiting 
for someone to enter it. 

During a whole fortnight he did not make a 
single allusion to Mrs. Noel, till, on the very last 
morning, as they were watching the sea, he said 
with his queer smile: 

' It almost makes one believe her theory, that 



THE PATRICIAN 

the old gods are not dead. Do you ever see them, 
Babs; or are you, like me, obtuse?' 

Certainly about those lithe invasions of the 
sea-nymph waves, with ashy, streaming hair, 
flinging themselves into the arms of the land, 
there was the old pagan rapture, an inexhaustible 
delight, a passionate soft acceptance of eternal 
fate, a wonderful acquiescence in the untiring 
mystery of life. 

But Barbara, ever disconcerted by that tone 
in his voice, and by this quick dive into the 
waters of unaccustomed thought, failed to find an 
answer. 

Miltoun went on: 

'She says, too, we can hear Apollo singing. 
Shall we try?" 

But all that came was the sigh of the sea, and 
of the wind in the tamarisk. 

'No," muttered Miltoun at last, 'she alone 
can hear it." 

And Barbara saw once more on his face that 
look, neither sad nor impatient, but as of one 
uninhabited and waiting. 

She left Sea House next day to rejoin her 
mother, who, having been to Cowes, and to the 
Duchess of Gloucester's, was back in Town wait- 
ing for Parliament to rise, before going off to 
Scotland. And that same afternoon the girl made 

315 



THE PATRICIAN 

her way to Mrs. Noel's flat. In paying this visit 
she was moved not so much by compassion, as by 
uneasiness, and a strange curiosity. Now that 
Miltoun was well again, she was seriously dis- 
turbed in mind. Had she made a mistake in sum- 
moning Mrs. Noel to nurse him? 

When she went into the little drawing-room 
Audrey was sitting in the deep-cushioned win- 
dow-seat with a book on her knee; and by the fact 
that it was open at the index, Barbara judged 
that she had not been reading too attentively. 
She showed no signs of agitation at the sight of 
her visitor, nor any eagerness to hear news of 
Miltoun. But the girl had not been five minutes 
in the room before the thought came to her: 
'Why ! She has the same look as Eustace !' She, 
too, was like an empty tenement; without im- 
patience, discontent, or grief waiting ! Barbara 
had scarcely realised this with a curious sense of 
discomposure, when Courtier was announced. 
Whether there was in this an absolute coinci- 
dence or just that amount of calculation which 
might follow on his part from receipt of a note 
written from Sea House saying that Miltoun 
was well again, that she was coming up and 
meant to go and thank Mrs. Noel was not clear, 
nor were her own sensations ; and she drew over 
her face that armoured look which she perhaps 

316 



THE PATRICIAN 

knew Courtier could not bear to see. His face, at 
all events, was very red when he shook hands. 
He had come, he told Mrs. Noel, to say goodbye. 
He was definitely off next week. Fighting had 
broken out; the revolutionaries were greatly out- 
numbered. Indeed, he ought to have been there 
long before ! 

Barbara had gone over to the window; she 
turned suddenly, and said: 

' You were preaching peace two months ago !' 
Courtier bowed. 

'We are not all perfectly consistent, Lady 
Barbara. These poor devils have a holy cause." 
Barbara held out her hand to Mrs. Noel. 
c You only think their cause holy because they 
happen to be weak. Good-bye, Mrs. Noel; the 
world is meant for the strong, isn't it !' 

She intended that to hurt him; and from the 
tone of his voice, she knew it had. 

' Don't, Lady Barbara; from your mother, yes; 
not from you !' 

'It's what I believe. Good-bye!' And she 
went out. 

She had told him that she did not want him to 
go not yet; and he was going ! 

But no sooner had she got outside, after that 
strange outburst, than she bit her lips to keep 
back an angry, miserable feeling. He had been 

3 1 ? 



THE PATRICIAN 

rude to her, she had been rude to him; that was 
the way they had said good-bye! Then, as she 
emerged into the sunlight, she thought: 'Oh! 
well; he doesn't care, and I'm sure I don't !' 

She heard a voice behind her. 

'May I get you a cab?" and at once the sore 
feeling began to die away; but she did not look 
round, only smiled, and shook her head, and 
made a little room for him on the pavement. 

But though they walked, they did not at first 
talk. There was rising within Barbara a tantalis- 
ing devil of desire to know the feelings which 
really lay behind that deferential gravity, to 
make him show her how much he really cared. 
She kept her eyes demurely lowered, but she let 
the glimmer of a smile flicker about her lips; she 
knew too that her cheeks were glowing, and for 
that she was not sorry. Was she not to have any 

any was he calmly to go away without 

And she thought : ' He shall say something ! He 
shall show me, without that horrible irony of his !' 

She said suddenly: 

'Those two are just waiting something will 
happen !' : 

' It is probable," was his grave answer. 

She looked at him then it pleased her to see 
him quiver as if that glance had gone right into 
him; and she said softly: 

318 



THE PATRICIAN 

"And I think they will be quite right." 

She knew those were reckless words, nor cared 
very much what they meant; but she knew the 
revolt in them would move him. She saw from 
his face that it had; and after a little pause, said: 

'Happiness is the great thing," and with soft, 
wicked slowness: "Isn't it, Mr. Courtier?' 

But all the cheeriness had gone out of his face, 
which had grown almost pale. He lifted his hand, 
and let it drop. Then she felt sorry. It was just as 
if he had asked her to spare him. 

'As to that," he said: 'the rough, unfortu- 
nately, has to be taken with the smooth. But 
life's frightfully jolly sometimes." 

"As now?" 

He looked at her with firm gravity, and an- 
swered : 

"As now." 

A sense of utter mortification seized on Bar- 
bara. He was too strong for her he was quixotic 
he was hateful ! And, determined not to show 
a sign, to be at least as strong as he, she said 
calmly: 

"Now I think I'll have that cab!" 

When she was in the cab, and he was standing 
with his hat lifted, she looked at him in a way 
peculiar to women, so that he did not realise that 
she had looked. 

319 



CHAPTER XIII 




Miltoun came to thank her, 
Audrey Noel was waiting in the 
middle of the room, dressed in 
white, her lips smiling, her dark 
eyes smiling, still as a flower on a 
windless day. 

In that first look passing between them, they 
forgot everything but happiness. Swallows, on 
the first day of summer, in their discovery of the 
bland air, can neither remember that cold winds 
blow, nor imagine the death of sunlight on their 
feathers, and, flitting hour after hour over the 
golden fields, seem no longer birds, but just the 
breathing of a new season swallows were no 
more forgetful of misfortune than were those 
two. His gaze was as still as her very self; her 
look at him had in it the quietude of all emotion. 
When they sat down to talk it was as if they 
had gone back to those days at Monkland, when 
he had come to her so often to discuss everything 
in heaven and earth. And yet, over that tranquil 
eager drinking-in of each other's presence, hov- 
ered a sort of awe. It was the mood of morning 
before the sun has soared. The dew-grey cob- 

320 



THE PATRICIAN 

webs enwrapped the flowers of their hearts yet 
every prisoned flower could be seen. And he and 
she seemed looking through that web at the col- 
our and the deep-down forms enshrouded so 
jealously; each feared too much to unveil the 
other's heart. They were like lovers who, ram- 
bling in a shy wood, never dare stay their bab- 
bling talk of the trees and birds and lost blue- 
bells, lest in the deep waters of a kiss their star 
of all that is to come should fall and be drowned. 
To each hour its familiar and the spirit of that 
hour was the spirit of the white flowers in the 
bowl on the window-sill above her head. 

They spoke of Monkland, and Miltoun's ill- 
ness; of his first speech, his impressions of the 
House of Commons; of music, Barbara, Courtier, 
the river. He told her of his health, and described 
his days down by the sea. She, as ever, spoke 
little of herself, persuaded that it could not in- 
terest even him; but she described a visit to the 
opera; and how she had found a picture in the 
National Gallery which reminded her of him. To 
all these trivial things and countless others, the 
tone of their voices soft, almost murmuring, 
with a sort of delighted gentleness gave a high, 
sweet importance, a halo that neither for the 
world would have dislodged from where it hov- 
ered. 

321 



THE PATRICIAN 

It was past six when he got up to go, and there 
had not been a moment to break the calm of that 
sacred feeling in both their hearts. They parted 
with another tranquil look, which seemed to say : 
' It is well with us we have drunk of happiness.' 

And in this same amazing calm Miltoun re- 
mained after he had gone away, till about half- 
past nine in the evening, he started forth, to 
walk down to the House. It was now that sort of 
warm, clear night, which in the country has fire- 
fly magic, and even over the Town spreads a dark 
glamour. And for Miltoun, in the delight of his 
new health and well-being, with every sense alive 
and clean, to walk through the warmth and 
beauty of this night was sheer pleasure. He 
passed by way of St. James's Park, treading 
down the purple shadows of plane-tree leaves 
into the pools of lamplight, almost with remorse 
so beautiful, and as if alive, were they. There 
were moths abroad, and gnats, born on the water, 
and scent of new-mown grass drifted up from the 
lawns. His heart felt light as a swallow he had 
seen that morning, swooping at a grey feather, 
carrying it along, letting it flutter away, then 
diving to seize it again. Such was his elation, this 
beautiful night ! Hearing the House of Commons, 
he thought he would walk a little longer, and 
turned westward to the river. On that warm 

322 



THE PATRICIAN 

evening the water, without movement at turn of 
tide, was like the black, snake-smooth hair of 
Nature streaming out on her couch of Earth, 
waiting for the caress of a divine hand. Far away 
on the further bank throbbed some huge machine, 
not stilled as yet. A few stars were out in the dark 
sky, but no moon to invest with pallor the gleam 
of the lamps. Scarcely anyone passed. Miltoun 
strolled along the river wall, then crossed, and 
came back in front of the Mansions where she 
lived. By the railing he stood still. In the sitting- 
room of her little flat there was no light, but the 
casement window was wide open, and the crown 
of white flowers in the bowl on the window-sill 
still gleamed out in the darkness like a crescent 
moon lying on its face. Suddenly, he saw two 
pale hands rise one on either side of that bowl, 
lift it, and draw it in. And he quivered, as though 
they had touched him. Again those two hands 
came floating up; they were parted now by dark- 
ness; the moon of flowers was gone, in its place 
had been set handfuls of purple or crimson blos- 
soms. And a puff of warm air rising quickly out 
of the night drifted their scent of cloves into his 
face, so that he held his breath for fear of calling 
out her name. 

Again the hands had vanished through the 
open window there was nothing to be seen but 

3 2 3 



THE PATRICIAN 

darkness; and such a rush of longing seized on 
Miltoun as stole from him all power of move- 
ment. He could hear her playing now. The mur- 
murous current of that melody was like the night 
itself, sighing, throbbing, languorously soft. It 
seemed that in this music she was calling him, 
telling him that she, too, was longing; her heart, 
too, empty. It died away; and at the window her 
white figure appeared. From that vision he could 
not, nor did he try to shrink, but moved out into 
the lamplight. And he saw her suddenly stretch 
out her hands to him, and withdraw them to her 
breast. Then all save the madness of his longing 
deserted Miltoun. He ran down the little garden, 
across the hall, up the stairs. 

The door was open. He passed through. There, 
in the sitting-room, where the red flowers in the 
window scented all the air, it was dark, and he 
could not at first see her, till against the piano he 
caught the glimmer of her white dress. She was 
sitting with hands resting on the pale notes. And 
falling on his knees, he buried his face against 
her. Then, without looking up, he raised his 
hands. Her tears fell on them covering her heart, 
which throbbed as if the passionate night itself 
were breathing in there, and all but the night and 
her love had stolen forth. 




CHAPTER XIV 

N a spur of the Sussex Downs, in- 
land from Nettlefold, stands a 
beech-grove. The traveller who 
enters it out of the heat and 
brightness, takes off the shoes of 
his spirit before its sanctity; and, reaching the 
centre, across the clean beech-mat, he sits re- 
freshing his brow with air, and silence. For the 
flowers of sunlight on the ground under those 
branches are pale and rare, no insects hum, the 
birds are almost mute. And close to the border- 
trees are the quiet, milk-white sheep, in congre- 
gation, escaping from noon heat. Here, above 
fields and dwellings, above the ceaseless network 
of men's doings, and the vapour of their talk, the 
traveller feels solemnity. All seems conveying 
divinity the great white clouds moving their 
wings above him, the faint longing murmur of the 
boughs, and in far distance, the sea. And for a 
space his restlessness and fear know the peace of 
God. 

So it was with Miltoun when he reached this 
temple, three days after that passionate night, 
having walked for hours, alone and full of con- 

325 



THE PATRICIAN 

flict. During those three days he had been borne 
forward on the flood tide; and now, tearing him- 
self out of London, where to think was impos- 
sible, he had come to the solitude of the Downs 
to walk, and face his new position. 

For that position he saw to be very serious. In 
the flush of full realisation, there was for him no 
question of renunciation. She was his, he hers; 
that was determined. But what, then, was he to 
do? There was no chance of her getting free. In 
her husband's view, it seemed, under no circum- 
stances was marriage dissoluble. Nor, indeed, to 
Miltoun would divorce have made things easier, 
believing as he did that he and she were guilty, 
and that for the guilty there could be no mar- 
riage. She, it was true, asked nothing but just to 
be his in secret; and that was the course he knew 
most men would take, without further thought. 
There was no material reason in the world why he 
should not so act, and maintain unchanged every 
other current of his life. It would be easy, usual. 
And, with her faculty for self-effacement, he 
knew she would not be unhappy. But conscience, 
in Miltoun, was a terrible and fierce thing. In the 
delirium of his illness it had become that Great 
Face which had marched over him. And, though 
during the weeks of his recuperation, struggle of 
all kind had ceased, now that he had yielded to 

326 



THE PATRICIAN 

his passion, conscience, in a new and dismal 
shape, had crept up again to sit above his heart. 
He must and would let this man, her husband, 
know; but even if that caused no open scandal, 
could he go on deceiving those who, if they knew 
of an illicit love, would no longer allow him to be 
their representative? If it were known that she 
was his mistress, he could no longer maintain his 
position in public life was he not therefore in 
honour bound, of his own accord, to resign it? 
Night and day he was haunted by the thought: 
How can I, living in defiance of authority, pre- 
tend to authority over my fellows? How can I re- 
main in public life? But if he did not remain in 
public life, what was he to do ? That way of life 
was in his blood; he had been bred and born into 
it; had thought of nothing else since he was a boy. 
There was no other occupation or interest which 
could hold him for a moment he saw very 
plainly that he would be cast away on the waters 
of existence. 

So the battle raged in his proud and twisted 
spirit, which took everything so hard his nature 
imperatively commanding him to keep his work 
and his power for usefulness; his conscience tell- 
ing him as urgently that if he sought to wield 
authority, he must obey it. 

He entered the beech-grove at the height of 

3 2 7 



THE PATRICIAN 

this misery, flaming with rebellion against the 
dilemma which Fate had placed before him ; vis- 
ited by gusts of resentment against a passion, 
which forced him to pay the price, either of his 
career, or of his self-respect; gusts, followed by 
remorse that he could so for one moment regret 
his love for that tender creature. The face of 
Lucifer was not more dark, more tortured, than 
Miltoun's face in the twilight of the grove, above 
those kingdoms of the world, for which his ambi- 
tion and his conscience fought. He threw himself 
down among the trees; and, stretching out his 
arms, by chance touched a beetle trying to crawl 
over the grass-less soil. Some bird had maimed it. 
He took the little creature up. The beetle truly 
could no longer work, but it was spared the fate 
lying before himself. The beetle was not, as he 
would be, w^hen his power of movement was de- 
stroyed, conscious of his own wasted life. The 
world would not roll away down there. He would 
still see himself cumbering the ground, when his 
powers were taken from him. This thought was 
torture. Why had he been suffered to meet her, 
to love her, and to be loved by her? What had 
made him so certain from the first moment, if she 
were not meant for him? If he lived to be a hun- 
dred, he would never meet another. Why, be- 
cause of his love, must he bury the will and force 

328 



THE PATRICIAN 

of a man? If there \vere no more coherence in 
God's scheme than this, let him too be incoher- 
ent ! Let him hold authority, and live outside 
authority ! Why stifle his powers for the sake of a 
coherence which did not exist ! That would in- 
deed be madness greater than that of a mad 
world ! 

There was no answer to his thoughts in the 
stillness of the grove, unless it were the cooing of 
a dove, or the faint thudding of the sheep issuing 
again into sunlight. But slowly that stillness stole 
into Miltoun's spirit. 'Is it like this in the 
grave?' he thought. 'Are the boughs of those 
trees the dark earth over me? And the sound in 
them the sound the dead hear when flowers are 
growing, and the wind passing through them? 
And is the feel of this earth how it feels to lie look- 
ing up for ever at nothing? Is life anything but a 
nightmare, a dream; and is not this the reality? 
And why my fury, my insignificant flame, blow- 
ing here and there, when there is really no wind, 
only a shroud of still air, and these flowers of 
sunlight that have been dropped on me ! Why 
not let my spirit sleep, instead of eating itself 
away with rage; why not resign myself at once 
to wait for the substance, of which this is but the 
shadow ! ' 

And he lay scarcely breathing, looking up at 

329 



THE PATRICIAN 

the unmoving branches setting with their dark- 
ness the pearls of the sky. 

'Is not peace enough?' he thought. 'Is not 
love enough? Can I not be reconciled, like a 
woman? Is not that salvation, and happiness? 
What is all the rest, but "sound and fury, signi- 
fying nothing"?' 

And as though afraid to lose his hold of that 
thought, he got up and hurried from the grove. 

The whole wide landscape of field and wood, 
cut by the pale roads, was glimmering under the 
afternoon sun. Here was no wild, wind-swept 
land, gleaming red and purple, and guarded by 
the grey rocks; no home of the winds, and the 
wild gods. It was all serene and silver-golden. In 
place of the shrill wailing pipe of the hunting 
buzzard-hawks half lost up in the wind, invisi- 
ble larks were letting fall hymns to tranquillity; 
and even the sea no adventuring spirit sweep- 
ing the shore with its wing seemed to lie rest- 
ing by the side of the land. 



330 




CHAPTER XV 

;HEN on the afternoon of that same 
day Miltoun did not come, all the 
chilly doubts which his presence 
alone kept away, crowded thick 
and fast into the mind of one only 
too prone to distrust her own happiness. It could 
not last how could it? 

His nature and her own were so far apart! 
Even in that giving of herself which had been 
such happiness, she had yet doubted; for so much 
in him was to her mysterious. All that he loved 
in poetry and nature, had in it something craggy 
and culminating. The soft and fiery, the subtle 
and harmonious, seemed to leave him cold. He 
had no particular love for all those simple natural 
things, birds, bees, animals, trees, and flowers, 
which seemed to her precious and divine. 

Though it was not yet four o'clock she was 
already beginning to droop like a flower that 
wants water. But she sat down to her piano, reso- 
lutely, till tea came; playing on and on with a 
spirit only half present, the other half of her 
wandering in the Town, seeking for Miltoun. 
After tea she tried first to read, then to sew, and 



THE PATRICIAN 

once more came back to her piano. The clock 
struck six; and as if its last stroke had broken the 
armour of her mind, she felt suddenly sick with 
anxiety. Why was he so long? But she kept on 
playing, turning the pages without taking in the 
notes, haunted by the idea that he might again 
have fallen ill. Should she telegraph? What good, 
when she could not tell in the least where he 
might be? And all the unreasoning terror of not 
knowing where the loved one is, beset her so that 
her hands, in sheer numbness, dropped from the 
keys. Unable to keep still, now, she wandered 
from window to door, out into the little hall, and 
back hastily to the window. Over her anxiety 
brooded a darkness, compounded of vague grow- 
ing fears. What if it were the end ? What if he had 
chosen this as the most merciful way of leaving 
her? But surely he would never be so cruel! 
Close on the heels of this too painful thought 
came reaction; and she told herself that she was 
a fool. He was at the House; something quite or- 
dinary was keeping him. It was absurd to be 
anxious ! She would have to get used to this now r . 
To be a drag on him would be dreadful. Sooner 
than that she would rather yes rather he 
never came back ! And she took up her book, de- 
termined to read quietly till he came. But the 
moment she sat down her fears returned with re- 

332 



THE PATRICIAN 

doubled force the cold sickly horrible feeling of 
uncertainty, of the knowledge that she could do 
nothing but wait till she was relieved by some- 
thing over which she had no control. And in the 
superstition that to stay there in the window 
where she could see him come, was keeping him 
from her, she went into her bedroom. From there 
she could watch the sunset clouds wine-dark over 
the river. A little talking wind shivered along the 
houses; the dusk began creeping in. She would 
not turn on the light, unwilling to admit that it 
was really getting late, but began to change her 
dress, lingering desperately over every little de- 
tail of her toilette, deriving therefrom a faint, 
mysterious comfort, trying to make herself feel 
beautiful. From sheer dread of going back before 
he came, she let her hair fall, though it was quite 
smooth and tidy, and began brushing it. Sud- 
denly she thought with horror of her efforts at 
adornment by specially preparing for him, she 
must seem presumptuous to Fate. At any little 
sound she stopped and stood listening save for 
her hair and eyes, as white from head to foot as a 
double narcissus flower in the dusk, bending 
towards some faint tune played to it somewhere 
out in the fields. But all those little sounds 
ceased, one after another they had meant 
nothing; and each time, her spirit returning 

333 



THE PATRICIAN 

within the pale walls of the room, began once 
more to inhabit her lingering fingers. During that 
hour in her bedroom she lived through years. It 
was dark when she left it. 



334 




CHAPTER XVI 

;HEN Miltoun at last came it was 
past nine o'clock. 

Silent, but quivering all over, 
she clung to him in the hall; and 
this passion of emotion, without 
sound to give it substance, affected him pro- 
foundly. How terribly sensitive and tender she 
was ! She seemed to have no armour. But though 
so stirred by her emotion, he was none the less 
exasperated. She incarnated at that moment the 
life to which he must now resign himself a life 
of unending tenderness, consideration, and pas- 
sivity. 

For a long time he could not bring himself to 
speak of his decision. Every look of her eyes, 
every movement of her body, seemed pleading 
with him to keep silence. But in Miltoun's char- 
acter there was an element of rigidity, which 
never suffered him to diverge from an objective 
once determined. 

When he had finished telling her, she only said : 
'Why can't we go on in secret?' 
And he felt with a sort of horror that he must 

335 



THE PATRICIAN 

begin his struggle over again. He got up, and 
threw open the window. The sky was dark above 
the river; the wind had risen. That restless mur- 
muration, and the width of the night with its 
scattered stars, seemed to come rushing at his 
face. He withdrew from it, and leaning on the sill 
looked down at her. What flower-like delicacy she 
had ! There flashed across him the memory of a 
drooping blossom, which, in the Spring, he had 
seen her throw into the flames, with the words: 
'I can't bear flowers to fade, I always want to 
burn them." He could see again those waxen 
petals yield to the fierce clutch of the little red 
creeping sparks, and the slender stalk quivering, 
and glowing, and writhing to blackness like a live 
thing. And, distraught, he began: 

' I can't live a lie. What right have I to lead, 
if I can't follow? I'm not like our friend Courtier 
who believes in Liberty. I never have, I never 
shall. Liberty? What is Liberty? But only those 
who conform to authority have the right to wield 
authority. A man is a churl who enforces laws, 
when he himself has not the strength to observe 
them. I will not be one of whom it can be said : 
' He can rule others, himself ! ' 

'No one will know." 

Miltoun turned away. 

'I shall know," he said; but he saw clearly 

336 



THE PATRICIAN 

that she did not understand him. Her face had a 
strange, brooding shut-away look, as though he 
had frightened her. And the thought that she 
could not understand, angered him. 

He said, stubbornly: 'No, I can't remain in 
public life." 

"But what has it to do with politics? It's such 
a little thing." 

"If it had been a little thing to me, should I 
have left you at Monkland, and spent those five 
weeks in purgatory before my illness? A little 
thing!' 

She exclaimed with sudden fire: 

"Circumstances are the little thing; it's love 
that's the great thing." 

Miltoun stared at her, for the first time under- 
standing that she had a philosophy as deep and 
stubborn as his own. But he answered cruelly: 

"Well ! the great thing has conquered me !' 

And then he saw her looking at him, as if, see- 
ing into the recesses of his soul, she had made 
some ghastly discovery. The look was so mourn- 
ful, so uncannily intent that he turned away from 

it. 

"Perhaps it is a little thing," he muttered; 4< I 
don't know. I can't see my way. I've lost my 
bearings; I must find them again before I can do 
anything." 

337 



THE PATRICIAN 

But as if she had not heard, or not taken in the 
sense of his words, she said again : 

: 'Oh ! don't let us alter anything; I won't ever 
want what you can't give." 

And this stubbornness, when he was doing the 
very thing that would give him to her utterly, 
seemed to him unreasonable. 

'I've had it out with myself," he said. "Don't 
let's talk about it any more." 

Again, with a sort of dry anguish, she mur- 
mured : 

"No, no ! Let us go on as we are !' 

Feeling that he had borne all he could, Mil- 
toun put his hands on her shoulders, and said: 
"That's enough!" 

Then, in sudden remorse, he lifted her, and 
clasped her to him. 

But she stood inert in his arms, her eyes closed, 
not returning his kisses. 



338 




CHAPTER XVII 

N the last day before Parliament 
rose, Lord Valleys, with a light 
heart, mounted his horse for a gal- 
lop in the Row. Though she was a 
blood mare he rode her with a 
plain snaffle, having the horsemanship of one who 
has hunted from the age of seven, and been for 
twenty years a Colonel of Yeomanry. Greeting 
affably everyone he knew, he maintained a frank 
demeanour on all subjects, especially of Govern- 
ment policy, secretly enjoying the surmises and 
prognostications, so pleasantly wide of the mark, 
and the way questions and hints perished before 
his sphinx-like candour. He spoke cheerily too of 
Miltoun, who was "all right again," and "burn- 
ing for the fray' when the House met again in 
the autumn. And he chaffed Lord Malvezin 
about his wife. If anything he said could make 
Bertie take an interest in politics, it would be she. 
He had two capital gallops, being well known to 
the police. The day was bright, and he was sorry 
to turn home. Falling in with Harbinger, he asked 
him to come back to lunch. There had seemed 
something different lately, an almost morose 

339 



THE PATRICIAN 

look, about young Harbinger; and his wife's dis- 
quieting words about Barbara came back to Lord 
Valleys with a shock. He had seen little of the 
child lately, and in the general clearing up of this 
time of year had forgotten all about the matter. 

Agatha, who was still staying at Valleys House 
with little Ann, waiting to travel up to Scotland 
with her mother, was out, and there was no one 
at lunch except Lady Valleys and Barbara her- 
self. Conversation flagged; for the young people 
were extremely silent, Lady Valleys was consid- 
ering the draft of a report which had to be settled 
before she left, and Lord Valleys himself was 
rather carefully watching his daughter. The news 
that Lord Miltoun was in the study came as a 
surprise, and somewhat of a relief to all. To an 
exhortation to bring him in to lunch, the servant 
replied that Lord Miltoun had lunched, and 
would wait. 

'Does he know there's no one here?' 

"Yes, my lady." 

Lady Valleys pushed back her plate, and rose : 

"Oh, well!" she said, "I've finished." 

Lord Valleys also got up, and they went out 
together, leaving Barbara, who had risen, looking 
doubtfully at the door. 

Lord Valleys had recently been told of the 
nursing episode, and had received the news with 

340 



THE PATRICIAN 

the dubious air of one hearing something about 
an eccentric person, which, heard about anyone 
else, could have had but one significance. If 
Eustace had been a normal young man his father 
would have shrugged his shoulders, and thought: 
'Oh, well ! There it is !' As it was, he had literally 
not known what to think. And now, crossing the 
saloon which intervened between the dining- 
room and the study, he said to his wife uneasily: 

" Is it this woman again, Gertrude or what?' 

Lady Valleys answered with a shrug: 

' Goodness knows, my dear/ 5 

Miltoun was standing in the embrasure of a 
window above the terrace. He looked well, and 
his greeting was the same as usual. 

"Well, my dear fellow,' 3 said Lord Valleys, 
"you're all right again evidently what's the 

o > 

news? 

"Only that I've decided to resign my seat." 

Lord Valleys stared. 

"What on earth for?" 

But Lady Valleys, with the greater quickness 
of women, divining already something of the 
reason, had flushed a deep pink. 

"Nonsense, my dear," she said; "it can't pos- 
sibly be necessary, even if " Recovering her- 
self, she added dryly: 

"Give us some reason." 



THE PATRICIAN 

'The reason is simply that I've joined my life 
to Mrs. Noel's, and I can't go on as I am, living 
a lie. If it were known I should obviously have to 
resign at once." 

'Good God !" exclaimed Lord Valleys. 

Lady Valleys made a rapid movement. In the 
face of what she felt to be a really serious crisis 
between these two utterly different creatures of 
the other sex, her husband and her son, she had 
dropped her mask and become a genuine woman. 
Unconsciously both men felt this change, and in 
speaking, turned towards her. 

'I can't argue it," said Miltoun; "I consider 
myself bound in honour." 

"And then?" she asked. 

Lord Valleys, with a note of real feeling, inter- 
jected: 

'By Heaven ! I did think you put your coun- 
try above your private affairs." 

"Geoff!" said Lady Valleys. 

But Lord Valleys went on: 

'No, Eustace, I'm out of touch with your view 
of things altogether. I don't even begin to under- 
stand it." 

'That is true," said Miltoun. 

'Listen to me, both of you!' said Lady 
Valleys: "You two are altogether different; and 
you must not quarrel. I won't have that. Now, 

342 



THE PATRICIAN 



Eustace, you are our son, and you have got to be 
kind and considerate. Sit down, and let's talk it 



over.' 



And motioning her husband to a chair, she sat 
down in the embrasure of a window. Miltoun re- 
mained standing. Visited by a sudden dread, 
Lady Valleys said: 

'Is it you've not there isn't going to be a 
scandal?' 

Miltoun smiled grimly. 

' I shall tell this man, of course, but you may 
make your minds easy, I imagine; I understand 
that his view of marriage does not permit of di- 
vorce in any case whatever/ 5 

Lady Valleys sighed with an utter and undis- 
guised relief. 

'Well, then, my dear boy," she began, "even 
if you do feel you must tell him, there is surely no 
reason why it should not otherwise be kept se- 



. 99 

cret. 



Lord Valleys interrupted her: 

' I should be glad if you would point out the 
connection between your honour and the resigna- 
tion of your seat," he said stiffly. 

Miltoun shook his head. 

' If you don't see already, it would be useless." 

'I do not see. The whole matter is is unfor- 
tunate, but to give up your work, so long as there 

343 



THE PATRICIAN 

is no absolute necessity, seems to me far-fetched 
and absurd. How many men are there into whose 
lives there has not entered some such relation at 
one time or another? This idea would disqualify 
half the nation." His eyes seemed in that crisis 
both to consult and to avoid his wife's, as though 
he were at once asking her endorsement of his 
point of view, and observing the proprieties. And 
for a moment in the midst of her anxiety, her 
sense of humour got the better of Lady Valleys. 
It was so funny that Geoff should have to give 
himself away; she could not for the life of her 
help fixing him with her eyes. 

'My dear,' 1 she murmured, 'y u underesti- 
mate three-quarters, at the very least!' 

But Lord Valleys, confronted with danger, was 
growing steadier. 

'It passes my comprehension," he said, "why 
you should want to mix up sex and politics at 
all." 

Miltoun's answer came very slowly, as if the 
confession were hurting his lips: 

'There is forgive me for using the word 
such a thing as one's religion. I don't happen to 
regard life as divided into public and private de- 
partments. My vision is gone broken I can 
see no object before me now in public life no 
goal no certainty." 

344 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lady Valleys caught his hand: 

"Oh! my dear," she said, "that's too dread- 
fully puritanical !" But at Miltoun's queer smile, 
she added hastily: 'Logical I mean." 

'Consult your common sense, Eustace, for 
goodness' sake," broke in Lord Valleys. " Isn't it 
your simple duty to put your scruples in your 
pocket, and do the best you can for your country 
with the powers that have been given you?' 

'I have no common sense." 

'In that case, of course, it may be just as well 
that you should leave public life." 

Miltoun bowed. 

"Nonsense!" cried Lady Valleys. "You don't 
understand, Geoffrey. I ask you again, Eustace, 
what will you do afterwards?' 

"I don't know." 

'You will eat your heart out, of course." 

''Quite possibly." 

'If you can't come to a reasonable arrange- 
ment with your conscience," again broke in Lord 
Valleys, 'for Heaven's sake give her up, like a 
man, and cut all these knots." 

'I beg your pardon, sir!' said Miltoun 
icily. 

Lady Valleys laid her hand on his arm. ; You 
must allow us a little logic too, my dear. You 
don't seriously imagine that she would wish you 

345 



THE PATRICIAN 

to throw away your life for her? I'm not such a 
bad judge of character as that." 

She stopped before the expression on Miltoun's 
face. 

'You go too fast," he said; "I may become a 
free spirit yet." 

To this saying, which seemed to her cryptic 
and sinister, Lady Valleys did not know what to 



answer. 




If you feel, as you say," Lord Valleys began 
once more, ' that the bottom has been knocked 
out of things for you by this this affair, don't, 
for goodness' sake, do anything in a hurry. Wait ! 
Go abroad ! Get your balance back ! You'll find 
the thing settle itself in a few months. Don't 
precipitate matters; you can make your health 
an excuse to miss the Autumn session." 
Lady Valleys chimed in eagerly: 

' You really are seeing the thing out of all pro- 
portion. What is a love-affair? My dear boy, do 
you suppose for a moment anyone would think 
the worse of you, even if they knew? And really 
not a soul need know." 

'It has not occurred to me to consider what 
they would think." 

"Then," cried Lady Valleys, nettled, "it's sim- 
ply your own pride." 

'You have said." 

346 



THE PATRICIAN 

Lord Valleys, who had turned away, spoke in 
an almost tragic voice: 

'I did not think that on a point of honour I 
should differ from my son/ 5 

Catching at the word honour, Lady Valleys 
cried suddenly: 

'Eustace, promise me, before you do any- 
thing, to consult your Uncle Dennis." 

Miltoun smiled. 
'This becomes comic," he said. 

At that word, which indeed seemed to them 
quite wanton, Lord and Lady Valleys turned on 
their son, and the three stood staring, perfectly 
silent. A little noise from the doorway inter- 
rupted them. 



347 




CHAPTER XVIII 

!EFT by her father and mother to 
the further entertainment of Har- 
binger, Barbara had said: 

1 Let's have coffee in here," and 
passed into the withdrawing room. 
Except for that one evening, when together by 
the sea wall they stood contemplating the pop- 
ulace, she had not been alone with him since he 
kissed her under the shelter of the box hedge. 
And now, after the first moment, she looked at 
him calmly, though in her breast there was a 
fluttering, as if an imprisoned bird were strug- 
gling ever so feebly against that soft and solid 
cage. Her last jangled talk with Courtier had left 
an ache in her heart. Besides, did she not know 
all that Harbinger could give her? 

Like a nymph pursued by a faun who held do- 
minion over the groves, she, fugitive, kept look- 
ing back. There was nothing in that fair wood of 
his with which she was not familiar, no thicket 
she had not travelled, no stream she had not 
crossed, no kiss she could not return. His was a 
discovered land, in which, as of right, she would 
reign. She had nothing to hope from him but 

348 



THE PATRICIAN 

power, and solid pleasure. Her eyes said: 'How 
am I to know whether I shall not want more 
than you; feel suffocated in your arms; be sur- 
feited by all that you will bring me? Have I not 
already got all that?' 

She knew, from his downcast gloomy face, how 
cruel she seemed, and was sorry. She wanted to 
be good to him, and said almost shyly: 

'Are you angry with me, Claud?' 

Harbinger looked up. 

'What makes you so cruel?' 

'I am not cruel." 

'You are. Where is your heart?' 

'Here!" said Barbara, touching her breast. 

: 'Ah !" muttered Harbinger; "7'm not joking." 

She said gently: 

"Is it as bad as that, my dear?' 1 

But the softness of her voice seemed to fan the 
smouldering fires in him. 

'There's something behind all this," he stam- 
mered, *' you've no right to make a fool of me !" 

: 'And what is the something, please?' 

'That's for you to say. But I'm not blind. 
What about this fellow Courtier?' 

At that moment there was revealed to Barbara 
a new acquaintance the male proper. No, to live 
with him would not be quite lacking in adven- 
ture ! 

349 



THE PATRICIAN 

His face had darkened; his eyes were dilated, 
his whole figure seemed to have grown. She sud- 
denly noticed the hair which covered his clenched 
fists. All his suavity had left him. He came very 
close. 

How long that look between them lasted, and 
of all there was in it, she had no clear knowledge; 
thought after thought, wave after wave of feel- 
ing, rushed through her. Revolt and attraction, 
contempt and admiration, queer sensations of 
disgust and pleasure, all mingled as on a May 
day one may see the hail fall, and the sun sud- 
denly burn through and steam from the grass. 

Then he said hoarsely: 

'Oh! Babs, you madden me so!' 

Smoothing her lips, as if to regain control of 
them, she answered: 

"Yes, I think I have had enough," and went 
out into her father's study. 

The sight of Lord and Lady Valleys so intently 
staring at Miltoun restored her self-possession. 

It struck her as slightly comic, not knowing 
that the little scene was the outcome of that 
word. In truth, the contrast between Miltoun 
and his parents at this moment was almost 
ludicrous. 

Lady Valleys was the first to speak. 

'Better comic than romantic. I suppose Bar- 

350 



THE PATRICIAN 

bara may know, considering her contribution to 
this matter. Your brother is resigning his seat, 
my dear; his conscience will not permit him to 
retain it, under certain circumstances that have 



arisen." 



Oh!' cried Barbara: "but surely- 



The matter has been argued, Babs," Lord 
Valleys said shortly; " unless you have some bet- 
ter reason to advance than those of ordinary 
common sense, public spirit, and consideration 
for one's family, it will hardly be worth your 
while to reopen the discussion." 

Barbara looked up at Miltoun, whose face, all 
but the eyes, was like a mask. 

'Oh, EustyF" she said, 'you're not going to 
spoil your life like this ! Just think how I shall 
feel." 

Miltoun answered stonily: 

'You did what you thought right; as I am 
doing." 

'Does she want you to?' 
"No." 

'There is, I should imagine," put in Lord Val- 
leys, ' ' not a solitary creature in the whole world 
except your brother himself who would wish for 
this consummation. But with him such a con- 
sideration does not weigh!' 

"Oh !" sighed Barbara; "think of Granny !" 

351 



THE PATRICIAN 

' I prefer not to think of her," murmured Lady 
Valleys. 

'She's so wrapped up in you, Eusty. She 
always has believed in you intensely." 

Miltoun sighed. And, encouraged by that 
sound, Barbara went closer. 

It was plain enough that, behind his impas- 
sivity, a desperate struggle was going on in Mil- 
toun. He spoke at last: 

'If I have not already yielded to one who is 
naturally more to me than anything, when she 
begged and entreated, it is because I feel this in 
a way you don't realise. I apologise for using the 
word comic just now, I should have said tragic. 
I'll enlighten Uncle Dennis, if that will comfort 
you; but this is not exactly a matter for anyone, 
except myself." And, without another look or 
word, he went out. 

As the door closed, Barbara ran towards it; 
and, with a motion strangely like the wringing 
of hands, said: 

'Oh, dear ! Oh ! dear !' Then, turning away to 
a bookcase, she began to cry. 

This ebullition of feeling, surpassing even their 
own, came as a real shock to Lady and Lord Val- 
leys, ignorant of how strung-up she had been be- 
fore she entered the room. They had not seen 
Barbara cry since she was a tiny girl. And in face 

352 



THE PATRICIAN 

of her emotion any animus they might have 
shown her for having thrown Miltoun into Mrs. 
NoePs arms, now melted away. Lord Valleys, es- 
pecially moved, went up to his daughter, and 
stood with her in that dark corner, saying noth- 
ing, but gently stroking her hand. Lady Valleys, 
who herself felt very much inclined to cry, went 
out of sight into the embrasure of the window. 

Barbara's sobbing was soon subdued. 

"It's his face," she said: "And why? Why? 
It's so unnecessary !' 

Lord Valleys, continually twisting his mous- 
tache, muttered: 

'Exactly ! He makes things hard for himself ! >: 
c Yes," murmured Lady Valleys from the win- 
dow, 'he was always uncomfortable, like that. 
I remember him as a baby. Bertie never was." 

And then the silence was only broken by the 
little angry sounds of Barbara blowing her nose. 

' I shall go and see mother," said Lady Valleys, 
suddenly: 'The boy's whole life may be ruined 
if we can't stop this. Are you coming, child?' 

But Barbara refused. 

She went to her room, instead. This crisis in 
Miltoun's life had strangely shaken her. It was 
as if Fate had suddenly revealed all that any 
step out of the beaten path might lead to, had 
brought her sharply up against herself. To wing 

353 



THE PATRICIAN 

out into the blue ! See what is meant ! If Miltoun 
kept to his resolve, and gave up public life, he 
was lost! And she herself! The fascination of 
Courtier's chivalrous manner, of a sort of innate 
gallantry, suggesting the quest of everlasting 
danger was it not rather absurd ? And was she 
fascinated? Was it not simply that she liked the 
feeling of fascinating him? Through the maze of 
these thoughts, darted the memory of Har- 
binger's face close to her own, his clenched hands, 
the swift revelation of his dangerous masculinity. 
It was all a nightmare of scaring queer sensa- 
tions, of things that could never be settled. She 
was stirred for once out of all her normal con- 
quering philosophy. Her thoughts flew back to 
Miltoun. That which she had seen in their faces, 
then, had come to pass ! And picturing Agatha's 
horror, when she came to hear of it, Barbara 
could not help a smile. Poor Eustace ! Why did he 
take things so hardly? If he really carried out his 
resolve and he never changed his mind it 
would be tragic ! It would mean the end of every- 
thing for him ! 

Perhaps now he would get tired of Mrs. Noel. 
But she was not the sort of woman a man would 
get tired of. Even Barbara in her inexperience 
felt that. She would always be too delicately care- 
ful never to cloy him, never to exact anything 

354 



THE PATRICIAN 

from him, or let him feel that he was bound to her 
by so much as a hair. Ah ! why couldn't they go 
on as if nothing had happened? Could nobody 
persuade him? She thought again of Courtier. 
If he, who knew them both, and was so fond of 
Mrs. Noel, would talk to Miltoun, about the 
right to be happy, the right to revolt? Eustace 
ought to revolt ! It was his duty. She sat down to 
write; then, putting on her hat, took the note and 
slipped downstairs. 



355 




CHAPTER XIX 

[HE flowers of summer in the great 
glass house at Ravensham were 
keeping the last afternoon-watch 
when Clifton summoned Lady 
Casterley with the words: 
'Lady Valleys in the white room.' 3 
Since the news of Miltoun's illness, and of Mrs. 
Noel's nursing, the little old lady had possessed 
her soul in patience; often, it is true, afflicted with 
poignant misgivings as to this new influence in 
the life of her favourite, affected too by a sort of 
jealousy, not to be admitted, even in her prayers, 
which, though regular enough, were perhaps 
somewhat formal. Having small liking now for 
leaving home, even for Catton, her country place, 
she was still at Ravensham, where Lord Dennis 
had come up to stay with her as soon as Miltoun 
had left Sea House. But Lady Casterley was 
never very dependent on company. She retained 
unimpaired her intense interest in politics, and 
still corresponded freely with prominent men. 
Of late, too, a slight revival of the June war scare 
had made its mark on her in a certain rejuvenes- 

356 



THE PATRICIAN 

cence, which always accompanied her contempla- 
tion of national crises, even when such were a 
little in the air. At blast of trumpet her spirit still 
leaped forward, unsheathed its sword, and stood 
at the salute. At such times, she rose earlier, 
went to bed later, was far less susceptible to 
draughts, and refused with asperity any food be- 
tween meals. She wrote too with her own hand 
letters which she would otherwise have dictated 
to her secretary. Unfortunately the scare had 
died down again almost at once; and the passing 
of danger always left her rather irritable. Lady 
Valleys' visit came as a timely consolation. 

She kissed her daughter critically; for there 
was that about her manner which she did not 
like. 

"Yes, of course I am well!' she said. 'Why 
didn't you bring Barbara?' 

'She was tired!' 

"H'm! Afraid of meeting me, since she com- 
mitted that piece of folly over Eustace. You 
must be careful of that child, Gertrude, or she 
will be doing something silly herself. I don't like 
the way she keeps Claud Harbinger hanging in 
the wind." 

Her daughter cut her short: 

"There is bad news about Eustace." 

Lady Casterley lost the little colour in her 

357 



THE PATRICIAN 

cheeks; lost, too, all her superfluity of irritable 
energy. 

"Tell me, at once!' 

Having heard, she said nothing; but Lady 
Valleys noticed with alarm that over her eyes had 
come suddenly the peculiar filminess of age. 

"Well, what do you advise?" she asked. 

Herself tired, and troubled, she was conscious 
of a quite unwonted feeling of discouragement 
before this silent little figure, in the silent white 
room. She had never before seen her mother look 
as if she heard Defeat passing on its dark wings. 
And moved by sudden tenderness for the little 
frail body that had borne her so long ago, she 
murmured almost with surprise: 

"Mother, dear!" 

"Yes," said Lady Casterley, as if speaking to 
herself, "the boy saves things up; he stores his 
feelings they burst and sweep him away. First 
his passion; now his conscience. There are two 
men in him; but this will be the death of one of 
them." And suddenly turning on her daughter, 
she said: 

"Did you ever hear about him at Oxford, Ger- 
trude? He broke out once, and ate husks with the 
Gadarenes. You never knew. Of course you 
never have known anything of him." 

Resentment rose in Lady Valleys, that anyone 

358 



THE PATRICIAN 

should know her son better than herself; but she 
lost it again looking at the little figure, and said, 
sighing: 
"Well?" 
Lady Casterley murmured: 

'Go away, child; I must think. You say he's to 
consult Dennis? Do you know her address? Ask 
Barbara when you get back and telephone it to 
me." And at her daughter's kiss, she added 
grimly : 

'I shall live to see him in the saddle yet, 
though I am seventy-eight." 

When the sound of her daughter's car had died 
away, she rang the bell. 

' If Lady Valleys rings up, Clifton, don't take 
the message, but call me." And seeing that Clif- 
ton did not move she added sharply: "Well?' 

f There is no bad news of his young lordship's 
health, I hope!" 
"No." 

'Forgive me, my lady, but I have had it on 
my mind for some time to ask you something." 
And the old man raised his hand with a pe- 
culiar dignity, seeming to say: 'You will excuse 
me that for the moment I am a human being 
speaking to a human being.' 

"The matter of his attachment," he went on, 
"is known to me; it has given me acute anxiety, 

359 



THE PATRICIAN 

knowing his lordship as I do, and having heard 
him say something singular when he was here in 
July. I should be grateful if you would assure me 
that there is to be no hitch in his career, my 
lady." 

The expression on Lady Casterley's face was 
strangely compounded of surprise, kindliness, 
defence, and impatience as with a child. 

'Not if I can prevent it, Clifton," she said 
shortly; "in fact, you need not concern yourself." 

Clifton bowed. 

'Excuse me mentioning it, my lady;" a quiver 
ran over his face between its long white whiskers, 
"but his young lordship's career is more to me 
than my own." 

When he had left her, Lady Casterley sat down 
in a little low chair long she sat there by the 
empty hearth, till the daylight was all gone. 



360 




CHAPTER XX 

OT far from the dark-haloed inde- 
terminate limbo where dwelt that 
bugbear of Charles Courtier, the 
great Half-Truth Authority, he 
himself had a couple of rooms at 
fifteen shillings a week. Their chief attraction was 
that the great Half-Truth Liberty had recom- 
mended them. They tied him to nothing, and 
were ever at his disposal when he was in London; 
for his landlady, though not bound by agreement 
so to do, let them in such a way, that she could 
turn anyone else out at a week's notice. She was 
a gentle soul, married to a socialistic plumber 
twenty years her senior. The worthy man had 
given her two little boys, and the three of them 
kept her in such permanent order that to be in 
the presence of Courtier was the greatest pleasure 
she knew. When he disappeared on one of his 
nomadic missions, explorations, or adventures, 
she enclosed the whole of his belongings in two 
tin trunks and placed them in a cupboard which 
smelled a little of mice. When he reappeared the 
trunks were reopened, and a powerful scent of 
dried rose-leaves would escape. For, recognising 

361 



THE PATRICIAN 

the mortality of things human, she procured 
every summer from her sister, the wife of a mar- 
ket gardener, a consignment of this commodity, 
which she passionately sewed up in bags, and 
continued to deposit year by year in Courtier's 
trunks. This, and the way she made his toast 
very crisp and aired his linen very dry, were 
practically the only things she could do for a 
man naturally inclined to independence, and ac- 
customed from his manner of life to fend for him- 
self. 

At first signs of his departure she would go into 
some closet or other, away from the plumber and 
the two marks of his affection, and cry quietly; 
but never in Courtier's presence did she dream 
of manifesting grief as soon weep in the pres- 
ence of death or birth, or any other fundamental 
tragedy or joy. In face of the realities of life she 
had known from her youth up the value of the 
simple verb 'sto stare to stand fast." 

And to her Courtier was a reality, the chief 
reality of life, the focus of her aspiration, the 
morning and the evening star. 

The request, then five days after his farewell 
visit to Mrs. Noel for the elephant-hide trunk 
which accompanied his rovings, produced her 
habitual period of seclusion, followed by her ha- 
bitual appearance in his sitting-room bearing a 

362 



THE PATRICIAN 

note, and some bags of dried rose-leaves on a 
tray. She found him in his shirt sleeves, packing. 

"Well, Mrs. Benton; off again!" 

Mrs. Benton, plaiting her hands, for she had 
not yet lost something of the look and manner of 
a little girl, answered in her flat, but serene voice: 
c Yes, sir; and I hope you're not going any- 
where very dangerous this time. I always think 
you go to such dangerous places." 

'To Persia, Mrs. Benton, where the carpets 
come from." 

:< Oh! yes, sir. Your washing's just come 
home.' 5 

Her, apparently cast-down, eyes stored up a 
wealth of little details; the way his hair grew, the 
set of his back, the colour of his braces. But sud- 
denly she said in a surprising voice: 

"You haven't a photograph you could spare, 
sir, to leave behind? Mr. Benton was only saying 
to me yesterday, we've nothing to remember him 
by, in case he shouldn't come back." 

* Here's an old one." 

Mrs. Benton took the photograph. 

"Oh !" she said; "you can see who it is." And 
holding it perhaps too tightly, for her fingers 
trembled, she added: 

"A note, please, sir; and the messenger boy is 
waiting for an answer." 

363 



THE PATRICIAN 

While he read the note she noticed with con- 
cern how packing had brought the blood into his 
head. . . . 

When, in response to that note, Courtier en- 
tered the well-known confectioner's called Cus- 
tard's, it was still not quite tea-time, and there 
seemed to him at first no one in the room save 
three middle-aged women packing sweets; then 
in the corner he saw Barbara. The blood was no 
longer in his head; he was pale, walking down 
that mahogany-coloured room impregnated with 
the scent of wedding-cake. Barbara, too, was 
pale. 

So close to her that he could count her every 
eyelash, and inhale the scent of her hair and 
clothes to listen to her story of Miltoun, so hesi- 
tatingly, so wistfully told, seemed very like being 
kept waiting with the rope already round his 
neck, to hear about another person's toothache. 
He felt this to have been unnecessary on the part 
of Fate ! And there came to him perversely the 
memory of that ride over the sun-warmed 
heather, when he had paraphrased the old Sici- 
lian song: "Here will I sit and sing." He was a 
long way from singing now; nor was there love in 
his arms. There was instead a cup of tea; and in 
his nostrils the scent of cake, with now and then a 
whiff of orange-flower water. 

364 



THE PATRICIAN 

'I see," he said, when she had finished telling 
him : ' ' Liberty's a glorious feast ! ' You want me 
to go to your brother, and quote Burns? You 
know, of course, that he regards me as danger- 



ous.' 



! Yes; but he respects and likes you." 

'And I respect and like him," answered Cour- 
tier. 

One of the middle-aged females passed, carry- 
ing a large white card-board box; and the creak- 
ing of her stays broke the hush. 

'You have been very sweet to me," said Bar- 
bara, suddenly. 

Courtier's heart stirred, as if it were turning 
over within him; and gazing into his teacup, he 
answered : 

"All men are decent to the evening star. I will 
go at once and find your brother. When shall I 
bring you news?' 

"To-morrow at five I'll be at home." 

And repeating, "To-morrow at five,'" he rose. 

Looking back from the door, he saw her face 
puzzled, rather reproachful, and went out 
gloomily. The scent of cake, and orange-flower 
water, the creaking of the female's stays, the 
colour of mahogany, still clung to his nose and 
ears, and eyes; but within him it was all dull baf- 
fled rage. Why had he not made the most of this 

365 



THE PATRICIAN 

unexpected chance; why had he not made des- 
perate love to her? A conscientious fool ! And yet 
the whole thing was absurd ! She was so young ! 
God knew he would be glad to be out of it. If he 
stayed he was afraid that he would play the fool. 
But the memory of her words: ' : You have been 
very sweet to me !" would not leave him; nor the 
memory of her face, so puzzled, and reproachful. 
Yes, if he stayed he would play the fool ! He 
would be asking her to marry a man double her 
age, of no position but that which he had carved 
for himself, and without a rap. And he would be 
asking her in such a way that she might possibly 
have some little difficulty in refusing. He would 
be letting himself go. And she was only twenty 
for all her woman-of-the-world air, a child ! No ! 
He would be useful to her, if possible, this once, 
and then clear out ! 



366 




CHAPTER XXI 

HEN Miltoun left Valleys House 
he walked in the direction of 
Westminster. During the five days 
that he had been back in Lon- 
don he had not yet entered the 
House of Commons. After the seclusion of his 
illness, he still felt a yearning, almost painful, 
towards the movement and stir of the town. 
Everything he heard and saw made an intensely 
vivid impression. The lions in Trafalgar Square, 
the great buildings of Whitehall, filled him with 
a sort of exultation. He was like a man who, after 
a long sea voyage, first catches sight of land, and 
stands straining his eyes, hardly breathing, tak- 
ing in one by one the lost features of that face. 
He walked on to Westminster Bridge, and going 
to an embrasure in the very centre, looked back. 
It was said that the love of those towers passed 
into the blood. It was said that he who had sat 
beneath them could never again be quite the 
same. Miltoun knew that it was true desper- 
ately true, of himself. In person he had sat there 
but three weeks, but in soul he seemed to have 
been sitting there hundreds of years. And now he 

367 



THE PATRICIAN 

would sit there no more ! An almost frantic de- 
sire to free himself from this coil rose up within 
him. To be held a prisoner by that most secret of 
all his instincts, the instinct for authority ! To be 
unable to wield authority because to wield au- 
thority was to insult authority. God ! It was 
hard! He turned his back on the towers, and 
sought distraction in the faces of the passers-by. 
Each of these, he knew, had his struggle to 
keep self-respect ! Or was it that they were un- 
conscious of struggle or of self-respect, and just 
let things drift? They looked like that, most of 
them! And all his inherent contempt for the 
average or common welled up while he watched 
them. Yes, they looked like that ! Ironically, the 
sight of those from whom he had desired the com- 
fort of compromise, served instead to stimulate 
that part of him which refused to let him com- 
promise. They looked soft, soggy, without pride 
or will, as though they knew that life was too 
much for them, and had shamefully accepted the 
fact. They so obviously needed to be told what 
they might do, and which way they should go; 
they would accept orders as they accepted their 
work, or pleasures. And the thought that he was 
now debarred from the right to give them orders, 
rankled in him furiously. They, in their turn, 
glanced casually at his tall figure leaning against 

368 



THE PATRICIAN 

the parapet, not knowing how their fate was 
trembling in the balance. His thin, sallow face, 
and hungry eyes gave one or two of them perhaps 
a feeling of interest or discomfort; but to most 
he was assuredly no more than any other man or 
woman in the hurly-burly. That dark figure of 
conscious power struggling in the fetters of its 
own belief in power, was a piece of sculpture they 
had neither time nor wish to understand, having 
no taste for tragedy for witnessing the human 
spirit driven to the wall. 

It was five o'clock before Miltoun left the 
Bridge, and passed, like an exile, before the gates 
of Church and State, on his way to his uncle's 
Club. He stopped to telegraph to Audrey the 
time he would be coming to-morrow afternoon; 
and, on leaving the Post-Office, noticed in the 
window of the adjoining shop some reproductions 
of old Italian masterpieces, amongst them one of 
Botticelli's " Birth of Venus." He had never seen 
that picture; and, remembering that she had told 
him it was her favourite, he stopped to look at it. 
Averagely well versed in such matters, as became 
one of his caste, Miltoun had not the power of 
letting a work of art insidiously steal the private 
self from his soul, and replace it with the self of 
all the world; and he examined this far-famed 
presentment of the heathen goddess with aloof- 

369 



THE PATRICIAN 

ness, even irritation. The drawing of the body 
seemed to him crude, the whole picture a little 
flat and Early; he did not like the figure of the 
Flora. The golden serenity, and tenderness, of 
which she had spoken, left him cold. Then he 
found himself looking at the face, and slowly, but 
with uncanny certainty, began to feel that he was 
looking at the face of Audrey herself. The hair 
was golden and different, the eyes grey and dif- 
ferent, the mouth a little fuller; yet it was her 
face; the same oval shape, the same far-apart, 
arched brows, the same strangely tender, elusive 
spirit. And, as though offended, he turned and 
walked on. In the window of that little shop was 
the effigy of her for whom he had bartered away 
his life the incarnation of passive and entwining 
love, that gentle creature, who had given herself 
to him so utterly, for whom love, and the flowers, 
and trees, and birds, music, the sky, and the 
quick-flowing streams, were all-sufficing; and 
who, like the goddess in the picture, seemed won- 
dering at her own existence. He had a sudden 
glimpse of understanding, strange indeed in one 
who had so little power of seeing into others' 
hearts. Ought she ever to have been born into a 
world like this? But the flash of insight yielded 
quickly to that sickening consciousness of his own 
position, which never left him now. Whatever 

370 



THE PATRICIAN 

else he did, he must get rid of that malaise ! But 
what could he do in that coming life? Write 
books? What sort of books could he write? Only 
such as expressed his views of citizenship, his 
political and social beliefs. As well remain sitting 
and speaking beneath those towers ! He could 
never join the happy band of artists, those soft 
and indeterminate spirits, for whom barriers had 
no meaning, content to understand, interpret, 
and create. What should he be doing in that gal- 
lery? The thought was inconceivable. A career at 
the Bar yes, he might take that up; but to what 
end? To become a judge ! As well continue to sit 
beneath those towers ! Too late for diplomacy. 
Too late for the Army; besides, he had not the 
faintest taste for military glory. Bury himself in 
the country like Uncle Dennis, and administer 
one of his father's estates ? It would be death. Go 
amongst the poor? For a moment he thought he 
had found a new vocation. But in what capacity 
to order their lives, when he himself could not 
order his own; or, as a mere conduit pipe for 
money, when he believed that charity was rotting 
the nation to its core? At the head of every av- 
enue stood an angel or devil with drawn sword. 
And then there came to him another thought. 
Since he was being cast forth from Church and 
State, could he not play the fallen spirit like a 



THE PATRICIAN 

man be Lucifer, and destroy ! And instinctively 
he at once saw himself returning to those towers, 
and beneath them crossing the floor; joining the 
revolutionaries, the Radicals, the freethinkers, 
scourging his present Party, the party of author- 
ity and institutions. The idea struck him as 
supremely comic, and he laughed out loud in the 
street. . . . 

The Club which Lord Dennis frequented was 
in St. James's untouched by the tides of the wa- 
ters of fashion steadily swinging to its moorings 
in a quiet backwater, and Miltoun found his un- 
cle in the library. He was reading a volume of 
Burton's travels, and drinking tea. 

"Nobody comes here," he said, 'so, in spite 
of that word on the door, we shall talk. Waiter, 
bring some more tea, please." 

Impatiently, but with a sort of pity, Miltoun 
watched Lord Dennis's urbane movements, 
wherein old age was, pathetically, trying to make 
each little thing seem important, if only to the 
doer. Nothing his great-uncle could say would 
outweigh the warning of his picturesque old 
figure ! To be a bystander; to see it all go past 
you; to let your sword rust in its sheath, as this 
poor old fellow had done ! The notion of explain- 
ing what he had come about was particularly 
hateful to Miltoun; but since he had given his 

372 



THE PATRICIAN 

word, he nerved himself with secret anger, and 
began : 

" I promised my mother to ask you a question, 
Uncle Dennis. You know of my attachment, I 
believe?' 

Lord Dennis nodded. 

"Well, I have joined my life to this lady's. 
There will be no scandal, but I consider it my 
duty to resign my seat, and leave public life 

alone. Is that right or wrong according to your 

f) > 
view r 

Lord Dennis looked at his nephew in silence. 
A faint flush coloured his brown cheeks. He had 
the appearance of one travelling in mind over the 
past. 

"Wrong, I think,' 3 he said, at last. 

"Why, if I may ask?" 

" I have not the pleasure of knowing this lady, 
and am therefore somewhat in the dark; but it 
appears to me that your decision is not fair to 
her." 

"That is beyond me," said Miltoun. 

Lord Dennis answered firmly: 

"You have asked me a frank question, expect- 
ing a frank answer, I suppose?' 

Miltoun nodded. 

"Then, my dear, don't blame me if what I say 
is unpalatable." 

373 



THE PATRICIAN 

" I shall not." 

'Good ! You say you are going to give up pub- 
lic life for the sake of your conscience. I should 
have no criticism to make if it stopped there." 

He paused, and for quite a minute remained 
silent, evidently searching for words to express 
some intricate thread of thought. 

'But it won't, Eustace; the public man in you 
is far stronger than the other. You want leader- 
ship more than you want love. Your sacrifice will 
kill your affection; what you imagine is your loss 
and hurt, will prove to be this lady's in the end." 

Miltoun smiled. 

Lord Dennis continued very dryly and with a 
touch of malice: 

'You are not listening to me; but I can see 
quite well that the process has begun already un- 
derneath. There's a curious streak of the Jesuit 
in you, Eustace. What you don't want to see, you 
won't look at." 

'You advise me, then, to compromise?' 

"On the contrary, I point out that you will be 
compromising if you try to keep both your con- 
science and your love. You will be seeking to have 
it both ways." 

'That is interesting." 

"And you will find yourself having it neither, 53 
said Lord Dennis sharply. 

374 



THE PATRICIAN 

Miltoun rose. 'In other words, you, like the 
others, recommend me to desert this lady who 
loves me, and whom I love. And yet, Uncle, they 
say that in your own case 

But Lord Dennis had risen, too, having lost all 
the appanage and manner of old age. 

'Of my own case," he said bluntly, "we won't 
talk. I don't advise you to desert anyone; you 
quite mistake me. I advise you to know yourself. 
And I tell you my opinion of you you were cut 
out by Nature for a statesman, not a lover! 
There's something dried-up in you, Eustace; 
I'm not sure there isn't something dried-up in all 
our caste. We've had to do with forms and cere- 
monies too long. We're not good at taking the 
lyrical point of view." 

'Unfortunately," said Miltoun, "I cannot, to 
fit in with a theory of yours, commit a baseness." 

Lord Dennis began pacing up and down. He 
was keeping his lips closed very tight. 

'A man who gives advice," he said at last, 
'is always something of a fool. For all that, you 
have mistaken mine. I am not so presumptuous 
as to attempt to enter the inner chamber of your 
spirit. I have merely told you that, in my opin- 
ion, it would be more honest to yourself, and 
fairer to this lady, to compound with your con- 
science, and keep both your love and your public 

375 



THE PATRICIAN 

life, than to pretend that you were capable of sac- 
rificing what I know is the stronger element in 
you for the sake of the weaker. You remember 
the saying Democritus, I think 



(each man's nature or character is his fate 
or god). I commend it to you." 

For a full minute Miltoun stood without reply- 
ing, then said: 

" I am sorry to have troubled you, Uncle Den- 
nis. A middle policy is no use to me. Good-bye F 
And without shaking hands, he went out. 



376 



CHAPTER XXII 




the hall someone rose from a 
sofa, and came towards him. It 
was Courtier. 

"Run you to earth at last," he 
said; " I wish you'd come and dine 
with me. I'm leaving England to-morrow night, 
and there are things I want to say." 

There passed through Miltoun' s mind the 
rapid thought: 'Does he know?' He assented, 
however, and they went out together. 

" It's difficult to find a quiet place," said Cour- 
tier; 'but this might do." 

The place chosen was a little hostel, frequented 
by racing men, and famed for the excellence of 
its steaks. And as they sat down opposite each 
other in the almost empty room, Miltoun 
thought: 'Yes, he does know! Can I stand any 
more of this?' He waited almost savagely for the 
attack he felt was coming. 

"So you are going to give up your seat?" said 
Courtier. 

Miltoun looked at him for some seconds, be- 
fore replying: 

"From what town-crier did you hear that?' 

377 



THE PATRICIAN 

But there was that in Courtier's face which 
checked his anger; its friendliness was trans- 
parent. 

"I am about her only friend/ 1 Courtier pro- 
ceeded earnestly; "and this is my last chance 
to say nothing of my feeling towards you, which, 
believe me, is very cordial." 

"Go on, then/' Miltoun muttered. 

"Forgive me for putting it bluntly. Have you 
considered what her position was before she met 

f) 99 

you? 

Miltoun felt the blood rushing to his face, but 
he sat still, clenching his nails into the palms of 
his hands. 

"Yes, yes/' said Courtier, 'but that attitude 
of mind you used to have it yourself which de- 
crees for women either living death, or the spiri- 
tual adultery of continuing abhorred marriage 
relations, makes my blood boil. And I say you 
had the right fundamentally to protest against 
them, not only in words but deeds. You did pro- 
test, I know; but this present decision of yours 
is a climb down, as much as to say that your pro- 
test was wrong." 

Miltoun rose from his seat. ' I cannot discuss 
this/ 5 he said. 

"For her sake, you must. If you give up your 
public work, you'll spoil her life a second time." 

378 



THE PATRICIAN 



Miltoun again sat down. At the word "must" 
a steely feeling had come to his aid; his eyes be- 
gan to resemble the old Cardinal's. ' l Your nature 
and mine, Courtier," he said, "are too far apart; 
we shall never understand each other." 

'Never mind that," answered Courtier. " Ad- 
mitting those two alternatives to be horrible, 
which you never would have done unless the 
facts had been brought home to you person- 

ally " 

"That," said Miltoun icily, "I deny your right 
to say." 

'Anyway, you do admit them if you believe 
you had not the right to rescue her, on what prin- 
ciple do you base that belief?' 

Miltoun placed his elbow on the table, and 
leaning his chin on his hand, regarded the cham- 
pion of lost causes without speaking. There was 
such a turmoil going on within him that with 
difficulty he could force his lips to obey him. 

'By what right do you ask me that?' he said 
at last. He saw Courtier's face grow scarlet, and 
his fingers twisting furiously at those flame-like 
moustaches ; but his answer was as steadily ironi- 
cal as usual. 

"Well, I can hardly sit still, my last evening in 
England, without lifting a finger, while you im- 
molate a woman to whom I feel like a brother. 

379 



THE PATRICIAN 

Til tell you what your principle is: Authority, 
unjust or just, desirable or undesirable, must be 
implicitly obeyed. To break a law, no matter on 
what provocation, or for whose sake, is to break 
the commandment " 

* Don't hesitate say, of God." 

''Of an infallible fixed Power. Is that a true 
definition of your principle?' 

"Yes," said Miltoun, between his teeth, "I 
think so.' 5 

'Exceptions prove the rule." 

'Hard cases make bad law." 

Courtier smiled: " I knew you were coming out 
with that. I deny that they do with this law, 
which is altogether behind the times. You had the 
right to rescue this woman." 

'No, Courtier, if we must fight, let us fight on 
the naked facts. I have not rescued anyone. I 
have merely stolen sooner than starve. That is 
why I cannot go on pretending to be a pattern. 
If it were known, I could not retain my seat an 
hour; I can't take advantage of an accidental 
secrecy. Could you?' 

Courtier was silent; and with his eyes Miltoun 
pressed on him, as though he would despatch him 
with that glance. 

'I could," said Courtier at last. 'When this 
law, by enforcing spiritual adultery on those who 

380 



THE PATRICIAN 

have come to hate their mates, destroys the sanc- 
tity of the married state the very sanctity it 
professes to uphold, you must expect to have it 
broken by reasoning men and women without 
their losing self-respect." 

In Miltoun there was rising that vast and sub- 
tle passion for dialectic combat, which was of his 
very fibre. He had almost lost the feeling that 
this was his own future being discussed. He saw 
before him in this sanguine man, whose voice and 
eyes had such a white-hot sound and look, the 
incarnation of all that he temperamentally op- 
posed. 

'That," he said, "is devil's advocacy. I admit 
no individual as judge in his own case." 

'Ah! Now we're coming to it. By the way, 
shall we get out of this heat?' 

They were no sooner in the cooler street, than 
the voice of Courtier began again : 

'Distrust of human nature, fear it's the 
whole basis of action for men of your stamp. You 
deny the right of the individual to judge, because 
you've no faith in the essential goodness of men; 
at heart you believe them bad. You give them no 
freedom, you allow them no consent, because you 
believe that their decisions would move down- 
wards, and not upwards. Well, it's the whole dif- 
ference between the aristocratic and the demo- 

381 



THE PATRICIAN 

cratic view of life. As you once told me, you hate 
and fear the crowd/ 5 

Miltoun eyed that steady sanguine face 
askance. 

[ Yes," he said, 'I do believe that men are 
raised in spite of themselves." 

1 You're honest. By whom?' 
Again Miltoun felt rising within him a sort of 
fury. Once for all he would slay this red-haired 
rebel; he answered with almost savage irony: 

'Strangely enough, by that Being to mention 
whom you object working through the medium 
of the best." 

'High- Priest ! Look at that girl slinking along 
there, with her eye on us; suppose, instead of 
withdrawing your garment, you went over and 
talked to her, got her to tell you what she really 
felt and thought, you'd find things that would 
astonish you. Men have something splendid in 
them. And they're raised, sir, by the aspiration 
that's in all of them. Haven't you ever noticed 
that public sentiment is always in advance of 
the Law?" 

'And you," said Miltoun, 'are the man who 
is never on the side of the majority?' 

The champion of lost causes uttered a short 
laugh. 

'Not so logical as all that," he answered. "The 

382 



THE PATRICIAN 

wind still blows; and Life's not a set of rules hung 
up in an office. Let's see, where are we?' They 
had been brought to a standstill by a group on 
the pavement in front of the Queen's Hall: 
'Shall we go in, and hear some music, and cool 
our tongues?' 

Miltoun nodded, and they went in. 

The great lighted hall, filled with the faint 
blueish vapour from hundreds of little rolls 
of tobacco leaf, was crowded from floor to ceil- 
ing. 

Taking his stand among the straw-hatted 
throng, Miltoun heard that steady ironical voice 
behind him: 

'Projanum vulgus ! Come to listen to the finest 
piece of music ever written ! Folk whom you 
wouldn't trust a yard to know what was good for 
them ! Deplorable sight, isn't it?' 

He made no answer. The first slow notes of the 
seventh Symphony of Beethoven had begun to 
steal forth across the bank of flowers; and, save 
for the steady rising of that blueish vapour, as it 
w r ere incense burnt to the god of melody, the 
crowd had become deathly still, as though one 
mind, one spirit, possessed each pale face inclined 
towards that music rising and falling like the 
sighing of the winds, that welcome from death 
the freed spirits of the beautiful. 

383 



THE PATRICIAN 

i 

When the last notes had died away, he turned 
and walked out. 

'Well/ 3 said the voice behind him, 'hasn't 
that shown you how things swell and grow; how 
splendid the world is?' 

Miltoun smiled. 

' It has shown me how beautiful the world can 
be made by a great man." 

And suddenly, as if the music had loosened 
some band within him, he began to pour forth 
words : 

'Look at the crowd in this street, Courtier, 
which of all crowds in the whole world can best 
afford to be left to itself; secure from pestilence, 
earthquake, cyclone, drought, from extremes of 
heat and cold, in the heart of the greatest and 
safest city in the world; and yet see the figure 
of that policeman ! Running through all the good 
behaviour of this crowd, however safe and free it 
looks, there is, there always must be, a central 
force holding it together. Where does that central 
force come from ? From the crowd itself, you say. 
I answer: No. Look back at the origin of human 
States. From the beginnings of things, the best 
man has been the unconscious medium of author- 
ity, of the controlling principle, of the divine 
force; he felt that power within him physical, 
at first he used it to take the lead, he has held 

384 



THE PATRICIAN 

the lead ever since, he must always hold it. All 
your processes of election, your so-called demo- 
cratic apparatus, are only a blind to the inquir- 
ing, a sop to the hungry, a salve to the pride of 
the rebellious. They are merely surface machin- 
ery, they cannot prevent the best man from com- 
ing to the top; for the best man stands nearest to 
the Deity, and is the first to receive the waves 
that come from Him. I'm not speaking of hered- 
ity. The best man is not necessarily born in my 
class, and I, at all events, do not believe he is 
any more frequent there than in other classes/ 3 
He stopped as suddenly as he had begun. 
'You needn't be afraid," answered Courtier, 
'that I take you for an average specimen. You're 
at one end, and I at the other and very likely 
both wide of the golden mark. But the world is 
not ruled by power, and the fear which power 
produces, as you think; it's ruled by love. Society 
is held together by the natural decency in man, 
by fellow-feeling. The democratic principle, 
which you despise, at root means nothing at all 
but that. Man left to himself is on the upward 
lay. If it weren't so, do you imagine for a moment 
your 'boys in blue' could keep order? A man 
knows unconsciously what he can and what he 
can't do, without losing his self-respect. He sucks 
that knowledge in with every breath. Laws and 

385 



THE PATRICIAN 

authority are not the be-all and end-all, they are 
conveniences, machinery, conduit pipes, main 
roads. They're not of the structure of the build- 
ing they're only scaffolding." 

Miltoun lunged out with the retort: 

'Without which no building could be built." 

Courtier parried. 

'That's rather different, my friend, from iden- 
tifying them with the building? They are things 
to be taken down as fast as ever they can be 
cleared away, to make room for an edifice which 
begins on earth, not in the sky. All the scaffold- 
ing of law is merely there to save time, to prevent 
the temple, as it mounts, from losing its way, and 
straying out of form." 

"No," said Miltoun, "no ! The scaffolding, as 
you call it, is the material projection of the archi- 
tect's conception, without which the temple does 
not and cannot rise; and the architect is God, 
working through the minds and spirits most akin 
to Himself." 

'We are now at the bed-rock," cried Courtier. 
'Your God is outside this world. Mine within it." 

"And never the twain shall meet !' 

In the ensuing silence Miltoun saw that they 
were in Leicester Square all quiet, before the 
theatres had disgorged; quiet yet waiting, with 
the lights, like yellow stars low-driven from the 

386 



THE PATRICIAN 

dark heavens, clinging to the white shapes of 
music-halls and cafes, and a sort of flying glam- 
our blanching the still foliage of the plane trees. 

'A 'whitely wanton' this Square!' said 
Courtier: : ' Alive as a face; no end to its queer 
beauty ! And, by Jove, if you go deep enough, 
you'll find goodness even here." 

'And the vileness you would ignore!' Mil- 
toun answered. 

He felt weary all of a sudden, anxious to get to 
his rooms, unwilling to continue this battle of 
words, which brought him no nearer to relief. It 
was with strange lassitude that he heard the 
voice still speaking: 

'We must make a night of it, since to-morrow 
we die. . . . You would curb licence from without 
I from within. When I get up and when I go to 
bed, when I draw a breath, see a face, or a flower, 
or a tree if I didn't feel that I was looking on the 
Deity, I believe I should quit this palace of varie- 
ties, from sheer boredom. You, I understand, 
can't look on your God, unless you withdraw into 
some high place. Isn't it a bit lonely there?' 

But Miltoun did not answer, so that they 
walked on in silence; till suddenly he broke out: 

"You talk of tyranny! What tyranny could 
equal this tyranny of your freedom? What tyr- 
anny in the world like that of this 'free' vulgar, 

387 



THE PATRICIAN 

narrow street, with its hundred journals, teeming 
like ants' nests, to produce what? In the en- 
trails of that creature of your freedom, Courtier, 
there is room neither for exaltation, discipline, 
nor sacrifice; there is room only for commerce, 
and licence." 

There was no answer for a moment; and from 
those tall houses, whose lighted windows he had 
apostrophised, Miltoun turned away towards the 
river. 'No," said the voice, 'for all its faults, 
the wind blows in that street, and there's a 
chance for everything. By God, I would rather 
see a few stars struggle out in a black sky than 
any of your perfect artificial lighting." 

And suddenly it seemed to Miltoun that he 
could never free himself from the echoes of that 
voice it was not worth while to try. 4 ' We are re- 
peating ourselves," he said, dryly. 

The river's black water was making stilly, 
slow recessional under a half-moon. Beneath the 
cloak of night the chaos on the far bank, the 
forms of cranes, high buildings, jetties, the bod- 
ies of some sleeping barges, a million queer dark 
shapes, were invested with emotion. All was re- 
ligious out there, all beautiful, all strange. And 
over this great quiet friend of man, lamps those 
humble flowers of night were throwing down 
the faint continual glamour of fallen petals; and 

388 



THE PATRICIAN 

a sweet-scented wind stole along from the West, 
very slow as yet, bringing in advance the tremor 
and perfume of the innumerable trees and fields 
which the river had loved as she came by. 

A murmur that was no true sound, but like the 
whisper of a heart to a heart, accompanied this 
voyage of the dark water. 

Then a small blunt skiff manned by two rowers 
came by under the wall, with the thudding and 
creak of oars. 

'So 'To-morrow we die'?' said Miltoun: 
'You mean, I suppose, that 'public life' is the 
breath of my nostrils, and I must die, because I 
give it up?' 

Courtier nodded. 

'Am I right in thinking, it was my young sis- 
ter who sent you on this crusade?' 

Courtier did not reply. 

'And so," Miltoun went on, looking him 
through and through; "to-morrow is to be your 
last day, too? Well, you're right to go. She is not 
an ugly duckling, who can live out of the social 
pond; she'll always want her native element. And 
now, we'll say good-bye ! Whatever happens to us 
both, I shall remember this evening." Smiling, he 
put out his hand: "MorUurus te saluto. 9 ' 



389 




CHAPTER XXIII 

[OURTIER sat in Hyde Park waft- 
ing for five o'clock. 

The day had recovered some- 
what from a grey morning, as 
though the glow of that long hot 
summer were too burnt-in on the air to yield to 
the first assault. The sun, piercing the crisped 
clouds, darted its beams at the mellowed leaves, 
and showered to the ground their delicate shadow 
stains. The first, too early, scent from leaves 
about to fall, penetrated to the heart. And sor- 
rowful shrill birds were tuning their little au- 
tumn pipes, blowing into them fragments of 
Spring odes to Liberty. 

Courtier thought of Miltoun and his mistress. 
By what a strange fate had those two been 
thrown together; to what end was their love com- 
ing? The seeds of grief were already sown; what 
flowers of darkness, or of tumult would come up? 
He saw her again as a little, grave, considering 
child, with her soft eyes, set wide apart under the 
dark arched brows, and the little tuck at the 
corner of her mouth that used to come when he 
teased her. And to that gentle creature who 

390 



THE PATRICIAN 

would sooner die than force anyone to anything, 
had been given this queer lover; this aristocrat 
by birth and nature, with the dried fervent soul, 
whose every fibre had been bred and trained in 
and to the service of Authority; this rejecter of 
the Unity of Life; this worshipper of an old God ! 
A God that stood, whip in hand, driving men to 
obedience. A God that even now Courtier could 
conjure up staring at him from the walls of his 
nursery. The God his own father had believed in. 
A God of the Old Testament, knowing neither 
sympathy nor understanding. Strange that He 
should be alive still: that there should still be 
thousands who worshipped Him. Yet, not so very 
strange, if, as they said, man made God in his 
own image ! Here indeed was a curious mating of 
what the philosophers would call the will to Love, 
and the will to Power ! 

A soldier and his girl came and sat down on a 
bench close by. They looked askance at this trim 
and upright figure with the fighting face; then, 
some subtle thing informing them that he was 
not of the disturbing breed called officer, they 
ceased to regard him, abandoning themselves to 
dumb and inexpressive felicity. Arm in arm, 
touching each other, they seemed to Courtier 
very jolly, having that look of living entirely in 
the moment, which always especially appealed 

391 



THE PATRICIAN 

to one whose blood ran too fast to allow him to 
speculate much upon the future or brood much 
over the past. 

A leaf from the bough above him, loosened by 
the sun's kisses, dropped, and fell yellow at his 
feet. The leaves were turning very soon ! 

It was characteristic of this man, who could be 
so hot over the lost causes of others, that, sitting 
there within half an hour of the final loss of his 
own cause, he could be so calm, so almost apa- 
thetic. This apathy was partly due to the hope- 
lessness, which Nature had long perceived, of 
trying to make him feel oppressed, but also to 
the habits of a man incurably accustomed to 
carrying his fortunes in his hand, and that hand 
open. It did not seem real to him that he was 
actually going to suffer a defeat, to have to con- 
fess that he had hankered after this girl all these 
past weeks, and that to-morrow all would be 
wasted, and she as dead to him as if he had never 
seen her. No, it was not exactly resignation, it 
was rather sheer lack of commercial instinct. If 
only this had been the lost cause of another per- 
son. How gallantly he would have rushed to the 
assault, and taken her by storm ! If only he him- 
self could have been that other person, how 
easily, how passionately could he not have 
pleaded, letting forth from him all those \vords, 

392 



THE PATRICIAN 

which had knocked at his teeth ever since he 
knew her, and which would have seemed so 
ridiculous and so unworthy, spoken on his own 
behalf. Yes, for that other person he could have 
cut her out from under the guns of the enemy; he 
could have taken her, that fairest prize. 

And in queer, cheery-looking apathy not far 
removed perhaps from despair he sat, watching 
the leaves turn over and fall, and now and then 
cutting with his stick at the air, where autumn 
was already riding. And, if in imagination he saw 
himself carrying her away into the wilderness, 
and with his devotion making her happiness to 
grow, it was so far a flight, that a smile crept 
about his lips, and once or twice he snapped his 
jaws. 

The soldier and his girl rose, passing in front of 
him down the Row. He watched their scarlet and 
blue figures, moving slowly towards the sun, and 
another couple close to the rails, crossing those 
receding forms. Very straight and tall, there was 
something exhilarating in the way this new 
couple sw r ung along, holding their heads up, turn- 
ing towards each other, to exchange words or 
smiles. Even at that distance they could be seen 
to be of high fashion; in their gait was the almost 
insolent poise of those who are above doubts and 
cares, certain of the world and of themselves. 

393 



THE PATRICIAN 

The girl's dress was tawny brown, her hair and 
hat too of the same hue, and the pursuing sun- 
light endowed her with a hazy splendour. Then, 
Courtier saw who they were that couple ! 

Except for an unconscious grinding of his teeth, 
he made no sound or movement, so that they 
went by without seeing him. Her voice, though 
not the words, came to him distinctly. He saw 
her hand slip up under Harbinger's arm and 
swiftly down again. A smile, of whose existence 
he was unaware, settled on his lips. He got up, 
shook himself, as a dog shakes off a beating, and 
walked away, with his mouth set very firm. 



394 




CHAPTER XXIV 

'EFT alone among the little ma- 
hogany tables of Custard's, where 
the scent of cake and of orange- 
flower water made happy all the 
air, Barbara had sat for some min- 
utes, her eyes cast down as a child from whom 
a toy has been taken contemplates the ground, 
not knowing precisely what she is feeling. Then, 
paying one of the middle-aged females, she went 
out into the Square. There a German band was 
playing "Delibes* Coppelia"; and the murdered 
tune came haunting her, a ghost of incongruity. 
She went straight back to Valleys House. In 
the room where three hours ago she had been left 
alone after lunch with Harbinger, her sister was 
seated in the window, looking decidedly dis- 
turbed. In fact, Agatha had just spent an awk- 
ward hour. Chancing, with little Ann, into that 
confectioner's where she could best obtain a par- 
ticularly gummy sweet which she believed whole- 
some for her children, she had been engaged in 
purchasing a pound, when looking down, she per- 
ceived Ann standing stock-still, with her sudden 
little nose pointed down the shop, and her mouth 

395 



THE PATRICIAN 

opening; glancing in the direction of those frank, 
enquiring eyes, Agatha saw to her amazement 
her sister and a man whom she recognised as 
Courtier. With a readiness which did her com- 
plete credit, she placed a sweet in Ann's mouth, 
and saying to the middle-aged female: "Then 
you'll send those, please. Come, Ann !" went out. 
Shocks never coming singly, she had no sooner 
reached home, than from her father she learned 
of the development of Miltoun's love affair. 
When Barbara returned, she was sitting, un- 
feignedly upset and grieved; unable to decide 
whether or no she ought to divulge what she her- 
self had seen, but w r ithal buoyed-up by that pe- 
culiar indignation of the essentially domestic 
woman, whose ideals have been outraged. 

Judging at once from the expression of her face 
that she must have heard the news of Miltoun, 
Barbara said: 

* Well, my dear Angel, any lecture for me?' 

Agatha answered coldly: 
'I think you were quite mad to take Mrs. 
Noel to him." 

'The whole duty of woman," murmured Bar- 
bara, ' includes a little madness.' 1 

Agatha looked at her in silence. 
'I can't make you out," she said at last; 
* you're not a fool!' 

396 



THE PATRICIAN 

"Only a knave." 

'You may think it right to joke over the 
ruin of Miltoun's life," murmured Agatha; "I 
don't." 

Barbara's eyes grew bright; and in a hard 
voice she answered: 

'The world is not your nursery, Angel!" 

Agatha closed her lips very tightly, as who 
should imply: 'Then it ought to be!" But she 
only answered: 

'I don't think you know that I saw you just 
now in Custard's." 

Barbara eyed her for a moment in amazement, 
and began to laugh. 

'I see," she said; 'monstrous depravity 
poor old Custard's!' And still laughing that 
dangerous laugh, she turned on her heel and went 
out. 

At dinner and afterwards that evening she was 
very silent, having on her face the same look that 
she wore out hunting, especially when in difficul- 
ties of any kind, or if advised to "take a pull." 
When she got away to her own room she had a 
longing to relieve herself by some kind of action 
that would hurt someone, if only herself. To go 
to bed and toss about in a fever for she knew 
herself in these thwarted moods was of no use ! 
For a moment she thought of going out. That 

397 



THE PATRICIAN 

would be fun, and hurt them, too; but it was 
difficult. She did not want to be seen, and have 
the humiliation of an open row. Then there came 
into her head the memory of the roof of the tower, 
where she had once been as a little girl. She 
would be in the air there, she would be able to 
breathe, to get rid of this feverishness. With the 
unhappy pleasure of a spoiled child taking its 
revenge, she took care to leave her bedroom door 
open, so that her maid would wonder where she 
was, and perhaps be anxious and make them 
anxious. Slipping through the moonlit picture 
gallery on to the landing, outside her father's 
sanctum, whence rose the stone staircase leading 
to the roof, she began to mount. She was breath- 
less, when, after that unending flight of stairs, she 
emerged on to the roof at the extreme northern 
end of the big house, where, below her, was a 
sheer drop of a hundred feet. At first she stood, a 
little giddy, grasping the rail that ran round that 
garden of lead, still absorbed in her brooding re- 
bellious thoughts. Gradually she lost conscious- 
ness of everything save the scene before her. High 
above all neighbouring houses, she was almost 
appalled by the majesty of what she saw. This 
night-clothed city, so remote and dark, so white- 
gleaming and alive, on whose purple hills and 
valleys grew such myriad golden flowers of light, 

398 



THE PATRICIAN 



from whose heart came this deep incessant mur- 
mur could it possibly be the same city through 
which she had been walking that very day ! From 
its sleeping body the supreme wistful spirit had 
emerged in dark loveliness, and was low flying 
down there, tempting her. Barbara turned round, 
to take in all that amazing prospect, from the 
black glades of Hyde Park, in front, to the pow- 
dery white ghost of a church tower, away to the 
East. How marvellous was this city of night ! 
And as, in presence of that wide darkness of the 
sea before dawn, her spirit had felt little and 
timid within her so it felt now, in face of this 
great, brooding, beautiful creature, whom man 
had made. She singled out the shapes of the Pic- 
cadilly hotels, and beyond them the palaces and 
towers of Westminster and Whitehall; and every- 
where the inextricable loveliness of dim blue 
forms and sinuous pallid lines of light, under an 
indigo-dark sky. Near at hand, she could see 
plainly the still-lighted windows, the motor-cars 
gliding by, far down, even the tiny shapes of 
people walking; and the thought that each of 
them meant someone like herself, seemed strange. 
Drinking of this wonder-cup, she began to ex- 
perience a queer intoxication, and lost the sense 
of being little; rather she had the feeling of 
power, as in her dream at Monkland. She too, as 

399 



THE PATRICIAN 

well as this great thing below her, seemed to have 

shed her body, to be emancipated from every 
barrier floating deliciously identified with air. 
She seemed to be one with the enfranchised spirit 
of the city, drowned in perception of its beauty. 
Then all that feeling went and left her frowning, 
shivering, though the wind from the West was 
warm. Her v/hole adventure of coming up here 
seemed bizarre, ridiculous. Very stealthily she 
crept down, and had reached once more the door 
into the picture gallery, when she heard her 
mother's voice say in amazement: 'That you, 
Babs?' And turning, saw her coming from the 
doorway of the sanctum. 

Of a sudden very cool, with all her faculties 
about her, Barbara only stood looking at Lady 
Valleys, who said with hesitation: 

'Come in here, dear, a minute, will you?' 

In that room resorted to for comfort, Lord Val- 
leys was standing with his back to the hearth, 
and an expression on his face that wavered be- 
tween vexation and decision. The doubt in 
Agatha's mind whether she should tell or no, had 
been terribly resolved by little Ann, who in a 
pause of conversation had announced: 'We saw 
Auntie Babs and Mr. Courtier in Custard's, but 
we didn't speak to them." 

Upset by the events of the afternoon, Lady 

400 



THE PATRICIAN 

Valleys had not shown her usual savoir Jaire. She 
had told her husband. A meeting of this sort in a 
shop celebrated for little save its wedding cakes 
was in a sense of no importance; but, being both 
disturbed already by the news of Miltoun, it 
seemed to them nothing less than sinister, as 
though the heavens were in league for the demoli- 
tion of their house. To Lord Valleys it was pe- 
culiarly mortifying, because of his real admira- 
tion for his daughter, and because he had paid so 
little attention to his wife's warning of some 
weeks back. In consultation, however, they had 
only succeeded in deciding that Lady Valleys 
should talk with her. Though without much 
spiritual insight, both these two had a certain 
cool judgment; and they were fully alive to the 
danger of thwarting Barbara. This had not pre- 
vented Lord Valleys from expressing himself 
strongly on the 'confounded unscrupulousness 
of that fellow/' and secretly forming his own plan 
for dealing with this matter. Lady Valleys, more 
deeply conversant with her daughter's nature, 
and by reason of femininity more lenient towards 
the other sex, had not tried to excuse Courtier, 
but had thought privately: 'Babs is rather a 
flirt.' For she could not altogether help remem- 
bering herself at the same age. 

Summoned thus unexpectedly, Barbara, her 



401 



THE PATRICIAN 

lips very firmly pressed together, took her stand 
coolly enough by her father's writing-table. 

Seeing her suddenly appear, Lord Valleys in- 
stinctively relaxed his frown; his experience of 
men and things, his thousands of diplomatic 
hours, served to give him an air of coolness and 
detachment which he was very far from feeling. 
In truth he would rather have faced a hostile mob 
than his favourite daughter in such circum- 
stances. His tanned face with its crisp grey 
moustache, his whole head indeed took on, un- 
consciously, a more than ordinarily soldier-like 
appearance. His eyelids drooped a little, his 
brows rose slightly. 

She was wearing a blue wrap over her evening 
frock, and he seized instinctively on that indif- 
ferent trifle to begin this talk. 

'Ah! Babs, have you been out?' 

Alive to her very finger-nails, with every 
nerve tingling, but showing no sign, Barbara an- 
swered : 

'No; on the roof of the tower." 

It gave her a malicious pleasure to feel the real 
perplexity beneath her father's dignified exterior. 
And detecting that covert mockery, Lord Valleys 
said dryly: 

Cj_ * >^9f 

btar-gazing? 

Then, with that sudden resolution peculiar to 

402 



THE PATRICIAN 

him, as though he were bored with having to de- 
lay and temporise, he added: 

'Do you know, I doubt whether it's wise to 
make appointments in confectioners' shops when 
Ann is in London." 

The dangerous little gleam in Barbara's eyes 
escaped his vision but not that of Lady Valleys, 
who said at once: 

"No doubt you had the best of reasons, my 
dear." 

Barbara curled her lip inscrutably. Indeed, had 
it not been for the scene they had been through 
that day with Miltoun, and for their very real 
anxiety, both would have seen then, that, while 
their daughter was in this mood, least said was 
soonest mended. But their nerves were not quite 
within control; and with more than a touch of 
impatience Lord Valleys ejaculated: 

" It doesn't appear to you, I suppose, to require 
any explanation?' 

Barbara answered: 

"No." 

"Ah !" said Lord Valleys: "I see. An explana- 
tion can be had no doubt from the gentleman 
whose sense of proportion was such as to cause 
him to suggest such a thing.' 3 

"He did not suggest it. I did." 

Lord Valleys' eyebrows rose still higher. 

403 



THE PATRICIAN 



'Indeed!' he said. 

'Geoffrey!' murmured Lady Valleys, 'I 
thought 7 was to talk to Babs." 

'It would no doubt be wiser." 

In Barbara, thus for the first time in her life 
seriously reprimanded, there was at work the 
most peculiar sensation she had ever felt, as if 
something were scraping her very skin a sick, 
and at the same time devilish, feeling. At that 
moment she could have struck her father dead. 
But she showed nothing, having lowered the lids 
of her eyes. 

'Anything else?" she said. 

Lord Valleys' jaw had become suddenly more 
prominent. 

: 'As a sequel to your share in Miltoun's busi- 
ness, it is peculiarly entrancing." 

'My dear," broke in Lady Valleys very 
suddenly, 'Babs will tell me. It's nothing, of 



course/ 



Barbara's calm voice said again: 
"Anything else?" 

The repetition of this phrase in that madden- 
ing cool voice almost broke down her father's 
sorely tried control. 

'Nothing from you," he said with deadly 
coldness. ' ' I shall have the honour of telling this 
gentleman what I think of him." 

404 



THE PATRICIAN 

At those words Barbara drew herself together, 
and turned her eyes from one face to the other. 

Under that gaze, which for all its cool hard- 
ness, was so furiously alive, neither Lord nor 
Lady Valleys could keep quite still. It was as if 
she had stripped from them the well-bred mask 
of those whose spirits, by long unquestioning ac- 
ceptance of themselves, have become inelastic, 
inexpansive, commoner than they knew. In fact 
a rather awful moment ! Then Barbara said : 

'If there's nothing else, I'm going to bed. 
Good-night !' 

And as calmly as she had come in, she went 
out. 

When she had regained her room, she locked 
the door, threw off her cloak, and looked at her- 
self in the glass. With pleasure she saw how firmly 
her teeth were clenched, how her breast was 
heaving, how her eyes seemed to be stabbing her- 
self. And all the time she thought: 

'Very well ! My dears ! Very well !' 



405 




CHAPTER XXV 

IN that mood of rebellious morti- 
fication she fell asleep. And, curi- 
ously enough, dreamed not of him 
whom she had in mind been so 
furiously defending, but of Har- 
binger. She fancied herself in prison, lying in a 
cell fashioned like the drawing-room at Sea 
House; and in the next cell, into which she could 
somehow look, Harbinger was digging at the wall 
with his nails. She could distinctly see the hair on 
the back of his hands, and hear him breathing. 
The hole he was making grew larger and larger. 
Her heart began to beat furiously; she awoke. 

She rose with a new and malicious resolution 
to show no sign of rebellion, to go through the 
day as if nothing had happened, to deceive them 

all, and then ! Exactly what "and then" 

meant, she did not explain even to herself. 

In accordance with this plan of action she pre- 
sented an untroubled front at breakfast, went 
out riding with little Ann, and shopping with her 
mother afterwards. Owing to this news of Mil- 
toun the journey to Scotland had been post- 
406 



THE PATRICIAN 

poned. She parried with cool ingenuity each at- 
tempt made by Lady Valleys to draw her into 
conversation on the subject of that meeting at 
Custard's, nor would she talk of her brother; 
in every other way she was her usual self. In the 
afternoon she even volunteered to accompany her 
mother to old Lady Harbinger's in the neigh- 
bourhood of Prince's Gate. She knew that Har- 
binger would be there, and with the thought of 
meeting that other at "five o'clock," had a cyni- 
cal pleasure in thus encountering him. It was so 
complete a blind to them all ! Then, feeling that 
she was accomplishing a masterstroke, she even 
told him, in her mother's hearing, that she 
would walk home, and he might come if he cared. 
He did care. 

But when once she had begun to swing along 
in the mellow afternoon, under the mellow trees, 
where the air was sweetened by the South- West 
wind, all that mutinous, reckless mood of hers 
vanished, she felt suddenly happy and kind, glad 
to be walking with him. To-day too he was cheer- 
ful, as if determined not to spoil her gaiety; and 
she was grateful for this. Once or twice she even 
put her hand up and touched his sleeve, calling 
his attention to birds or trees, friendly, and glad, 
after all those hours of bitter feelings, to be giving 
happiness. When they parted at the door of Val- 

407 



THE PATRICIAN 

leys House, she looked back at him, with a queer, 
half-rueful smile. For, now the hour had come ! 

In a little unfrequented ante-room, all white 
panels and polish, she sat down to wait. The en- 
trance drive was visible from here; and she meant 
to encounter Courtier casually in the hall. She 
was excited, and a little scornful of her own ex- 
citement. She had expected him to be punctual, 
but it was already past five; and soon she began 
to feel uneasy, almost ridiculous, sitting in this 
room where no one ever came. Going to the win- 
dow, she looked out. 

A sudden voice behind her, said: 

" Auntie Babs!" 

Turning, she saw little Ann regarding her with 
those wide, frank, hazel eyes. A shiver of nerves 
passed through Barbara. 

"Is this your room? It's a nice room, isn't it?' 

She answered: 

"Quite a nice room, Ann." 

"Yes. I've never been in here before. There's 
somebody just come, so I must go now, 53 

Barbara involuntarily put her hands up to her 
cheeks, and quickly passed with her niece into 
the hall. At the very door the footman William 
handed her a note. She looked at the superscrip- 
tion. It was from Courtier. She went back into 
the room. Through its half-closed door the figure 

408 



THE PATRICIAN 

of little Ann could be seen, with her legs rather 
wide apart, and her hands clasped on her low- 
down belt, pointing up at William her sudden 
little nose. Barbara shut the door abruptly, broke 
the seal, and read: 

'DEAR LADY BARBARA, 

*I am sorry to say my interview with your 
brother was fruitless. 

' I happened to be sitting in the Park just now, 
and I want to wish you every happiness before I 
go. It has been the greatest pleasure to know you. 
I shall never have a thought of you that will not 
be my pride; nor a memory that will not help me 
to believe that life is good. If I am tempted to 
feel that things are dark, I shall remember that 
you are breathing this same mortal air. And to 
beauty and joy I shall take off my hat with the 
greater reverence, that once I was permitted to 
walk and talk with you. And so, good-bye, and 
God bless you. 

'Your faithful servant, 

' CHARLES COURTIER." 

Her cheeks burned, quick sighs escaped her 
lips; she read the letter again, but before getting 
to the end could not see the words for mist. If in 
that letter there had been a word of complaint 

409 



THE PATRICIAN 

or even of regret ! She could not let him go like 
this, without good-bye, without any explanation 
at all. He should not think of her as a cold, stony 
flirt, who had been merely stealing a few weeks' 
amusement out of him. She would explain to him 
at all events that it had not been that. She would 
make him understand that it was not what he 
thought that something in her wanted wanted 

! Her mind was all confused. 'What was it?' 

she thought: 'What did I do?' And sore with 
anger at herself, she screwed the letter up in her 
glove, and ran out. She walked swiftly down to 
Piccadilly, and crossed into the Green Park. 
There she passed Lord Malvezin and a friend 
strolling up towards Hyde Park Corner, and gave 
them a very slight bow. The composure of those 
two precise and well-groomed figures sickened 
her just then. She wanted to run, to fly to this 
meeting that should remove from him the odious 
feelings he must have, that she, Barbara Caradoc, 
was a vulgar enchantress, a common traitress and 
coquette ! And his letter without a syllable of 
reproach ! Her cheeks burned so, that she could 
not help trying to hide them from people who 
passed. 

As she drew nearer to his rooms she walked 
slower, forcing herself to think what she should 
do, what she should let him do ! But she con- 

410 



THE PATRICIAN 

tinued resolutely forward. She would not shrink 
now whatever came of it ! Her heart fluttered, 
seemed to stop beating, fluttered again. She set 
her teeth; a sort of desperate hilarity rose in her. 
It was an adventure ! Then she was gripped by 
the feeling that had come to her on the roof. The 
whole thing was bizarre, ridiculous ! She stopped, 
and drew the letter from her glove. It might be 
ridiculous, but it was due from her; and closing 
her lips very tight, she walked on. In thought she 
was already standing close to him, her eyes shut, 
waiting, with her heart beating wildly, to know 
what she would feel when his lips had spoken, 
perhaps touched her face or hand. And she had a 
sort of mirage vision of herself, with eyelashes 
resting on her cheeks, lips a little parted, arms 
helpless at her sides. Yet, incomprehensibly, his 
figure was invisible. She discovered then that she 
was standing before his door. 

She rang the bell calmly, but instead of drop- 
ping her hand, pressed the little bare patch of 
palm left open by the glove to her face, to see 
whether it was indeed her own cheek flaming so. 

The door had been opened by some unseen 
agency, disclosing a passage and flight of stairs 
covered by a red carpet, at the foot of which lay 
an old, tangled, brown-white dog full of fleas and 
sadness. Unreasoning terror seized on Barbara; 

41 1 



THE PATRICIAN 

her body remained rigid, but her spirit began fly- 
ing back across the Green Park, to the very hall 
of Valleys House. Then she saw coming towards 
her a youngish woman in a blue apron, with mild, 
reddened eyes. 

'Is this where Mr. Courtier lives? 1 
: Yes, miss." The teeth of the young woman 
were few in number and rather black, and Bar- 
bara could only stand there saying nothing, as if 
her body had been deserted between the sunlight 
and this dim red passage, which led to what? 

The woman spoke again: 
'I'm sorry if you was wanting him, miss, he's 
just gone away." 

Barbara felt a movement in her heart, like the 
twang and quiver of an elastic band, suddenly 
relaxed. She bent to stroke the head of the old 
dog, who was smelling her shoes. The woman said : 
'And, of course, I can't give you his address, 
because he's gone to foreign parts." 

With a murmur, of whose sense she knew noth- 
ing, Barbara hurried out into the sunshine. Was 
she glad? Was she sorry? At the corner of the 
street she turned and looked back; the two heads, 
of the woman and the dog, were there still, poked 
out through the doorway. 

A. horrible inclination to laugh seized her, fol- 
lowed by as horrible a desire to cry. 

412 




CHAPTER XXVI 

:Y the river the West wind, whose 
murmuring had visited Courtier 
and Miltoun the night before, was 
bringing up the first sky of au- 
tumn. Slow-creeping and fleecy 
grey, the clouds seemed trying to overpower a 
sun that shone but fitfully even thus early in the 
day. While Audrey Noel was dressing, sunbeams 
danced desperately on the white wall, like little 
lost souls with no to-morrow, or gnats that wheel 
and wheel in brief joy, leaving no footmarks on 
the air. Through the chinks of a side window cov- 
ered by a dark blind, some smoky filaments of 
light were tethered to the back of her mirror. 
Compounded of trembling grey spirals, so thick 
to the eye that her hand felt astonishment when 
it failed to grasp them, and like zestful ghosts 
busy about their affairs, they brought a mo- 
ment's distraction to a heart not happy. For how 
could she be happy, her lover away from her now 
thirty hours, without having overcome with his 
last kisses the feeling of disaster which had set- 
tled on her when he told her of his resolve. Her 

413 



THE PATRICIAN 

eyes had seen deeper than his; her instinct had 
received a message from Fate. 

To be the dragger-down, the destroyer of his 
usefulness; to be not the helpmate, but the clog, 
not the inspiring sky, but the cloud. And because 
of a scruple which she could not understand ! She 
had no anger with that unintelligible scruple; but 
her fatalism, and her sympathy had followed it 
out into his future. Things being so, it could not 
be long before he felt that her love was maiming 
him ; even if he went on desiring her, it would be 
only with his body. And if, for this scruple, he 
were capable of giving up his public life, he 
would be capable of living on with her after his 
love was dead ! This thought she could not bear. 
It stung to the very marrow of her nerves. And 
yet surely Life could not be so cruel as to have 
given her such happiness meaning to take it from 
her ! Surely her love w r as not to be only a sum- 
mer's day; his love but an embrace, and then 
for ever nothing ! 

This morning, fortified by despair, she ad- 
mitted her own beauty. He would, he must want 
her more than that other life, at the very thought 
of which her face darkened. That other life so 
hard, and far from her ! So loveless, formal, and 
yet to him so real, so desperately, accursedly 
real ! If he must indeed give up his career, then 

414 



THE PATRICIAN 

surely the life they could live together would 
make up to him a life among simple and sweet 
things, all over the world, with music and pic- 
tures, and the flowers and all Nature, and friends 
who sought them for themselves, and in being 
kind to everyone, and helping the poor and the 
unfortunate, and loving each other ! But he did 
not want that sort of life ! What was the good of 
pretending that he did? It was right and natural 
he should want to use his powers ! To lead and 
serve ! She would not have him otherwise. With 
these thoughts hovering and darting within her, 
she went on twisting and coiling her dark hair, 
and burying her heart beneath lace and silk. 
She noted too, with her usual care, two fading 
blossoms in the bowl of flowers on her dressing- 
table, and, removing them, emptied out the 
water and refilled the bowl. 

Before she left her bedroom the sunbeams had 
already ceased to dance, the grey filaments of 
light were gone. Autumn sky had come into its 
own. Passing the mirror in the hall which was 
always rough with her, she had not courage to 
glance at it. Then suddenly a woman's belief in 
the power of her charm came to her aid; she felt 
almost happy surely he must love her better 
than his conscience ! But that confidence was 
very tremulous, ready to yield to the first rebuff. 

415 



THE PATRICIAN 

Even the friendly fresh-cheeked maid seemed 
that morning to be regarding her with compas- 
sion; and all the innate sense, not of "good form," 
but of form, which made her shrink from any- 
thing that should disturb or hurt another, or 
make anyone think she was to be pitied, rose up 
at once within her; she became more than ever 
careful to show nothing even to herself. So she 
passed the morning, mechanically doing the little 
usual things. An overpowering longing was with 
her all the time, to get him away with her from 
England, and see whether the thousand beauties 
she could show him would not fire him with love 
of the things she loved. As a girl she had spent 
nearly three years abroad. And Eustace had 
never been to Italy, nor to her beloved mountain 
valleys ! Then, the remembrance of his rooms at 
the Temple broke in on that vision, and shattered 
it. No Titian's feast of gentian, tawny brown, 
and alpenrose could intoxicate the lover of those 
books, those papers, that great map. And the 
scent of leather came to her now as poignantly 
as if she were once more flitting about noiselessly 
on her business of nursing. Then there rushed 
through her again the warm wonderful sense that 
had been with her all those precious days of 
love knowing secretly of its approaching triumph 
and fulfilment; the delicious sense of giving every 

416 



THE PATRICIAN 

minute of her time, every thought, and move- 
ment; and all the sweet unconscious waiting for 
the divine, irrevocable moment when at last she 
would give herself and be his. The remembrance 
too of how tired, how sacredly tired she had been, 
and of how she had smiled all the time with her 
inner joy of being tired for him. 

The sound of the bell startled her. His telegram 
had said, the afternoon ! She determined to show 
nothing of the trouble darkening the whole world 
for her, and drew a deep breath, waiting for his 
kiss. 

It was not Miltoun, but Lady Casterley. 

The shock sent the blood buzzing into her tem- 
ples. Then she noticed that the little figure be- 
fore her was also trembling; drawing up a chair, 
she said: ' Won't you sit down?' 

The tone of that old voice, thanking her, 
brought back sharply the memory of her garden 
at Monkland, bathed in the sweetness and shim- 
mer of summer, and of Barbara standing at her 
gate towering above this little figure, which now 
sat there so silent, with very white face. Those 
carved features, those keen, yet veiled eyes, had 
too often haunted her thoughts ; they were like a 
bad dream come true. 

'My grandson is not here, is he?' 

Audrey shook her head. 

417 



THE PATRICIAN 

'We have heard of his decision. I will not beat 
about the bush with you. It is a disaster for me 
a calamity. I have known and loved him since he 
was born, and I have been foolish enough to 
dream dreams about him. I wondered perhaps 
whether you knew how much we counted on him. 
You must forgive an old woman's coming here 
like this. At my age there are few things that 
matter, but they matter very much." 

And Audrey thought: 'And at my age there is 
but one thing that matters, and that matters 
worse than death.' But she did not speak. To 
whom, to what should she speak? To this hard 
old woman, who personified the world? Of what 
use, words? 

'I can say to you," went on the voice of the 
little figure, which seemed so to fill the room with 
its grey presence, 'what I could not bring my- 
self to say to others; for you are not hard- 
hearted." 

A quiver passed up from the heart so praised 
to the still lips. No, she was not hard-hearted ! 
She could even feel for this old woman from 
whose voice anxiety had stolen its despotism. 

'Eustace cannot live without his career. His 
career is himself, he must be doing, and leading, 
and spending his powers. What he has given you 
is not his true self. I don't want to hurt you, but 

418 



THE PATRICIAN 

the truth is the truth, and we must all bow be- 
fore it. I may be hard, but I can respect sorrow." 

To respect sorrow ! Yes, this grey visitor could 
do that, as the wind passing over the sea respects 
its surface, as the air respects the surface of a 
rose, but to penetrate to the heart, to understand 
her sorrow that old age could not do for youth ! 
As well try to track out the secret of the twist- 
ings in the flight of those swallows out there 
above the river, or to follow to its source the 
faint scent of the lilies in that bowl ! How should 
she know what was passing in here this little 
old woman whose blood was cold? And Audrey 
had the sensation of watching someone pelt her 
with the rind and husks of what her own spirit 
had long devoured. She had a longing to get up, 
and take the hand, the chill, spidery hand of age, 
and thrust it into her breast, and say : " Feel that, 
and cease!' 

But, withal, she never lost her queer dull com- 
passion for the owner of that white carved face. 
It was not her visitor's fault that she had come ! 
Again Lady Casterley was speaking. 

' It is early days. If you do not end it now, at 
once, it will only come harder on you presently. 
You know how determined he is. He will not 
change his mind. If you cut him off from his work 
in life, it will but recoil on you. I can only expect 

419 



THE PATRICIAN 

your hatred, for talking like this, but believe me, 
it's for your good, as well as his, in the long run." 

A tumultuous heart-beating of ironical rage 
seized on the listener to that speech. Her good ! 
The good of a corpse that the breath is just aban- 
doning; the good of a flower beneath a heel; the 
good of an old dog whose master leaves it for the 
last time ! Slowly a weight like lead stopped all 
that fluttering of her heart. If she did not end it 
at once ! The words had now been spoken that 
for so many hours, she knew, had Iain unspoken 
within her own breast. Yes, if she did not, she 
could never know a moment's peace, feeling that 
she was forcing him to a death in life, desecrating 
her own love and pride ! And the spur had been 
given by another ! The thought that someone 
this hard old woman of the hard world should 
have shaped in words the hauntings of her love 
and pride through all those ages since Miltoun 
spoke to her of his resolve; that someone else 
should have to tell her what her heart had so long 
known it must do this stabbed her like a knife ! 
This, at all events, she could not bear ! 

She stood up, and said: 

* Please leave me now ! I have a great many 
things to do, before I go." 

With a sort of pleasure she saw a look of be- 
wilderment cover that old face; with a sort of 

420 



THE PATRICIAN 

pleasure she marked the trembling of the hands 
raising their owner from the chair; and heard the 
stammering in the voice: <l You are going? Before 
before he comes? You you won't be seeing 
him again?' With a sort of pleasure she marked 
the hesitation, which did not know whether to 
thank, or bless, or just say nothing and creep 
away. With a sort of pleasure she watched the 
flush mount in the faded cheeks, the faded lips 
pressed together. Then, at the scarcely whispered 
words: <c Thank you, my dear!" she turned, un- 
able to bear further sight or sound. She went to 
the window and pressed her forehead against the 
glass, trying to think of nothing. She heard the 
sound of wheels Lady Casterley had gone. And 
then, of all the awful feelings man or woman can 
know, she experienced the worst: She could not 
cry! 

At this most bitter and deserted moment of 
her life, she felt strangely calm, foreseeing clearly, 
exactly, what she must do, and where go. 
Quickly it must be done, or it would never be 
done ! Quickly ! And without fuss ! She put some 
things together, sent the maid out for a cab, and 
sat down to write. 

She must do and say nothing that could excite 
him, and bring back his illness. Let it all be sober, 
reasonable! It would be easy to let him know 

421 



THE PATRICIAN 

where she was going, to write a letter that would 
bring him flying after her. But to write the calm 
reasonable words that would keep him waiting 
and thinking, till he never again came to her, 
broke her heart. 

When she had finished and sealed the letter, 
she sat motionless with a numb feeling in hands 
and brain, trying to realise what she had next to 
do. To go, and that was all ! 

Her trunks had been taken down already. She 
chose the little hat that he liked best, and over it 
fastened her thickest veil. Then, putting on her 
travelling coat and gloves, she looked in the long 
mirror, and seeing that there was nothing more 
to keep her, lifted her dressing bag, and went 
down. 

Over on the embankment a child was crying; 
and the passionate screaming sound, broken by 
the gulping of tears, made her cover her lips, as 
though she had heard her own escaped soul wail- 
ing out there. 

She leaned out of the cab to say to the maid : 
:< Go and comfort that crying, Ella. 53 
Only when she was alone in the train, secure 
from all eyes, did she give way to desperate 
weeping. The white smoke rolling past the win- 
dows was not more evanescent than her joy had 

422 



THE PATRICIAN 

been. For she had no illusions it was over ! 
From first to last not quite a year ! But even at 
this moment, not for all the world would she have 
been without her love, gone to its grave, like a 
dead child that evermore would be touching her 
breast with its wistful fingers. 



423 




CHAPTER XXVII 

;ARBARA, returning from her visit 
to Courtier's deserted rooms, was 
met at Valleys House with the 
message: Would she please go at 
once to Lady Casterley? 
When, in obedience, she reached Ravensham, 
she found her grandmother and Lord Dennis in 
the white room. They were standing by one of 
the tall windows, apparently contemplating the 
view. They turned indeed at sound of Barbara's 
approach, but neither of them spoke or nodded. 
Not having seen her grandmother since before 
Miltoun's illness, Barbara found it strange to be 
so treated; she too took her stand silently before 
the window. A very large wasp was crawling up 
the pane, then slipping down with a faint buzz. 
Suddenly Lady Casterley spoke. 
"Kill that thing!" 

Lord Dennis drew forth his handkerchief. 
'Not with that, Dennis. It will make a mess. 
Take a paper knife/ 3 

'I was going to put it out," murmured Lord 
Dennis. 

424 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Let Barbara with her gloves." 
Barbara moved towards the pane. 
'It's a hornet, I think," 1 she said. 
'So he is!' said Lord Dennis, dreamily. 
'Nonsense," murmured Lady Casterley, "it's 
a common wasp." 

' I know it's a hornet, Granny. The rings are 
darker." 

Lady Casterley bent down; when she raised 
herself she had a slipper in her hand. 

'Don't irritate him !" cried Barbara, catching 
her wrist. But Lady Casterley freed her hand. 

' I will," she said, and brought the sole of the 
slipper down on the insect, so that it dropped on 
the floor, dead. "He has no business in here." 

And, as if that little incident had happened 
to three other people, they again stood silently 
looking through the window. 

Then Lady Casterley turned to Barbara. 
'Well, have you realised the mischief that 
you've done?' 

'Ann!' murmured Lord Dennis. 
E Yes, yes; she is your favourite, but that won't 
save her. This woman to her great credit I say 
to her great credit has gone away, so as to put 
herself out of Eustace's reach, until he has recov- 
ered his senses." 

With a sharp-drawn breath Barbara said: 

425 



THE PATRICIAN 



"Oh Ipoor thing!" 

But on Lady Casterley 's face had come an 
almost cruel look. 

"Ah!' she said: 'Exactly. But, curiously 
enough, I am thinking of Eustace." Her little 
figure was quivering from head to foot: 'This 
will be a lesson to you not to play with fire !' 

:< Ann!' murmured Lord Dennis again, slip- 
ping his arm through Barbara's. 

'The world," went on Lady Casterley, :< is a 
place of facts, not of romantic fancies. You have 
done more harm than can possibly be repaired. 
I went to her myself. I was very much moved. 
If it hadn't been for your foolish conduct " 

:i Ann!" said Lord Dennis once more. 

Lady Casterley paused, tapping the floor with 
her little foot. Barbara's eyes were gleaming. 

'Is there anything else you would like to 
squash, dear?' 

'Babs !" murmured Lord Dennis; but, uncon- 
sciously pressing his hand against her heart, the 
girl went on. 

1 You are lucky to be abusing me to-day if it 
had been yesterday ' : 

At these dark words Lady Casterley turned 
away, her shoe leaving little dull stains on the 
polished floor. 

Barbara raised to her cheek the fingers which 

426 



THE PATRICIAN 

she had been so convulsively embracing. "Don't 
let her go on, uncle," she whispered, "not just 



now 




No, no, my dear," Lord Dennis murmured, 
'certainly not it is enough." 

'It has been your sentimental folly," came 
Lady Casterley's voice from a far corner, ''which 
has brought this on the boy." 

Responding to the pressure of the hand, back 
now at her waist, Barbara did not answer; and 
the sound of the little feet retracing their steps 
rose in the stillness. Neither of those two at the 
window turned their heads; once more the feet 
receded, and again began coming back. 

Suddenly Barbara, pointing to the floor, cried: 

'Oh! Granny, for Heaven's sake, stand still; 
haven't you squashed the hornet enough, even 
if he did come in where he hadn't any business?' 

Lady Casterley looked down at the debris of 
the insect. 

'Disgusting!' she said; but when she next 
spoke it was in a less hard, more querulous voice. 

'That man what was his name have you 
got rid of him?' 

Barbara went crimson. 

"Abuse my friends, and I will go straight home 
and never speak to you again." 

For a moment Lady Casterley looked almost 

427 



THE PATRICIAN 

as if she might strike her grand-daughter; then a 
little sardonic smile broke out on her face. 
'A creditable sentiment!' she said. 
Letting fall her uncle's hand, Barbara cried: 
'In any case, I'd better go. I don't know why 
you sent for me." 

Lady Casterley answered coldly: 

'To let you and your mother know of this 

woman's most unselfish behaviour; to put you on 

the qui vive for what Eustace may do now; to 

give you a chance to make up for your folly. 

Moreover to warn you against " she paused. 

"Yes?" 

'Let me " interrupted Lord Dennis. 

'No, Uncle Dennis, let Granny take her shoe !' 
She had withdrawn against the wall, tall, and 
as it were, formidable, with her head up. Lady 
Casterley remained silent. 

'Have you got it ready?' cried Barbara: 
"Unfortunately he's flown!' 1 
A voice said: 
"Lord Miltoun." 

He had come in quietly and quickly, preceding 
the announcement, and stood almost touching 
that little group at the window before they 
caught sight of him. His face had the rather 
ghastly look of sunburnt faces from which emo- 
tion has driven the blood; and his eyes, always so 

428 



THE PATRICIAN 

much the most living part of him, were full of 
such stabbing anger, that involuntarily they all 
looked down. 

'I want to speak to you alone," he said to 
Lady Casterley. 

Visibly, for perhaps the first time in her life, 
that indomitable little figure flinched. Lord Den- 
nis drew Barbara away, but at the door he whis- 
pered : 

'Stay here quietly, Babs; I don't like the look 
of this." 

Unnoticed, Barbara remained hovering. 

The two voices, low, and so far off in the long 
white room, were uncannily distinct, emotion 
charging each word with preternatural power of 
penetration; and every movement of the speak- 
ers had to the girPs excited eyes a weird precision, 
as of little figures she had once seen at a Paris 
puppet show. She could hear Miltoun reproach- 
ing his grandmother in words terribly dry and 
bitter. She edged nearer and nearer, till, seeing 
that they paid no more heed to her than if she 
were an attendant statue, she had regained her 
position by the window. 

Lady Casterley was speaking. 
' I was not going to see you ruined before my 
eyes, Eustace. I did what I did at very great 
cost. I did my best for you." 

429 



THE PATRICIAN 

Barbara saw Miltoun's face transfigured by a 
dreadful smile the smile of one defying his tor- 
turer with hate. Lady Casterley went on: 

'Yes, you stand there looking like a devil. 
Hate me if you like but don't betray us, moan- 
ing and moping because you can't have the moon. 
Put on your armour, and go down into the battle. 
Don't play the coward, boy!' : 

Miltoun's answer cut like the lash of a whip. 

"By God! Be silent!" 

And weirdly, there was silence. It was not the 
brutality of the words, but the sight of force sud- 
denly naked of all disguise like a fierce dog let 
for a moment off its chain which made Barbara 
utter a little dismayed sound. Lady Casterley 
had dropped into a chair, trembling. And without 
a look Miltoun passed her. If their grandmother 
had fallen dead, Barbara knew he would not have 
stopped to see. She ran forward, but the old 
woman waved her away. 

'Go after him," she said, 'don't let him go 
alone." 

And infected by the fear in that wizened voice, 
Barbara flew. 

She caught her brother as he was entering the 
taxi-cab in which he had come, and without a 
word slipped in beside him. The driver's face ap- 
peared at the window, but Miltoun only mo- 

430 



THE PATRICIAN 

tioned with his head, as if to say: Anywhere, 
away from here ! 

The thought flashed through Barbara: ' If only 
I can keep him in here with me ! ' 

She leaned out, and said quietly: 
'To Nettlefold, in Sussex never mind your 
petrol get more on the road. You can have 
what fare you like. Quick!' 

The man hesitated, looked in her face, and 
said: 

"Very well, Miss. By Dorking, ain't it?" 

Barbara nodded. 




CHAPTER XXVIII 

!HE clock over the stables was 
chiming seven when Miltoun and 
Barbara passed out of the tall iron 
gates, in their noisy swift-mov- 
ing world, which smelled faintly 
of petrol. Though the cab was closed, light spurts 
of rain drifted in through the open windows, re- 
freshing the girl's hot face, relieving a little her 
dread of this drive. For, now that Fate had been 
really cruel, now that it no longer lay in Mil- 
toun's hands to save himself from suffering, her 
heart bled for him; and she remembered to forget 
herself. The immobility with which he had re- 
ceived her intrusion, was ominous. And though 
silent in her corner, she was desperately working 
all her woman's wits to discover a way of break- 
ing into the house of his secret mood. He ap- 
peared not even to have noticed that they had 
turned their backs on London, and passed into 
Richmond Park. 

Here the trees, made dark by rain, seemed to 
watch gloomily the progress of this whirring- 
wheeled red box, unreconciled even yet to such 
harsh intruders on their wind-scented tranquil- 

43 2 



THE PATRICIAN 

lity. And the deer, pursuing happiness on the 
sweet grasses, raised disquieted noses, as who 
should say : Poisoners of the fern, defilers of the 
trails of air ! 

Barbara vaguely felt the serenity out there in 
the clouds, and the trees, and wind. If it would 
but creep into this dim, travelling prison, and 
help her; if it would but come, like sleep, and 
steal away dark sorrow, and in one moment make 
grief joy. But it stayed outside on its wistful 
wings; and that grand chasm which yawns be- 
tween soul and soul remained unbridged. For 
what could she say? How make him speak of 
what he was going to do? What alternatives in- 
deed were now before him? Would he sullenly 
resign his seat, and wait till he could find Audrey 
Noel again? But even if he did find her, they 
would only be where they were. She had gone, in 
order not to be a drag on him it would only be 
the same thing all over again ! Would he then, as 
Granny had urged him, put on his armour, and 
go down into the fight? But that indeed would 
mean the end, for if she had had the strength to 
go away now, she would surely never come back 
and break in on his life a second time. And a grim 
thought swooped down on Barbara. What if he 
resigned everything ! Went out into the dark ! 
Men did sometimes she knew caught like this 

433 



THE PATRICIAN 

in the full flush of passion. But surely not Mil- 
toun, with his faith! 'If the lark's song means 
nothing if that sky is a morass of our invention 
if we are pettily creeping on, furthering noth- 
ing persuade me of it, Babs, and HI bless you." 
But had he still that anchorage, to prevent him 
slipping out to sea? This sudden thought of death 
to one for whom life was joy, who had never even 
seen the Great Stillness, was very terrifying. She 
fixed her eyes on the back of the chauffeur, in his 
drab coat with the red collar, finding some com- 
fort in its solidity. They were in a taxicab, in 
Richmond Park ! Death incongruous, incredi- 
ble death ! It was stupid to be frightened ! She 
forced herself to look at Miltoun. He seemed to 
be asleep; his eyes were closed, his arms folded 
only a quivering of his eyelids betrayed him. Im- 
possible to tell what was going on in that grim 
waking sleep, which made her feel that she was 
not there at all, so utterly did he seem withdrawn 
into himself! 

He opened his eyes, and said suddenly: 

'So you think I'm going to lay hands on my- 
self, Babs?" 

Horribly startled by this reading of her 
thoughts, Barbara could only edge away and 
stammer: 

"No; oh, no!" 

434 



THE PATRICIAN 

'Where are we going in this thing?' 

" Nettlefold. Would you like him stopped?" 
'It will do as well as anywhere." 

Terrified lest he should relapse into that grim 
silence, she timidly possessed herself of his hand. 

It was fast growing dark; the cab, having left 
the villas of Surbiton behind, was flying along at 
great speed among pine trees and stretches of 
heather gloomy with faded daylight. 

Miltoun said presently, in a queer, slow voice : 

'If I want, I have only to open that door and 

jump. You who believe that 'to-morrow we die' 

- give me the faith to feel that I can free myself 

by that jump, and out I go !' Then, seeming to 

pity her terrified squeeze of his hand, he added : 

'It's all right, Babs; we shall sleep comfortably 

enough in our beds to-night." 

But, so desolate to the girl was his voice, that 
she hoped now for silence. 

'Let us be skinned quietly/ 3 muttered Mil- 
toun, 'if nothing else. Sorry to have disturbed 
you." 

Pressing close up to him, Barbara murmured: 

"If only Talk to me!" 

But Miltoun, though he stroked her hand, was 
silent. 

The cab, moving at unaccustomed speed along 
these deserted roads, moaned dismally; and Bar- 

435 



THE PATRICIAN 

bara was possessed now by a desire which she 
dared not put in practice, to pull his head down, 
and rock it against her. Her heart felt empty, and 
timid; to have something warm resting on it 
would have made all the difference. Everything 
real, substantial, comforting, seemed to have 
slipped away. Among these flying dark ghosts of 
pine trees as it were the unfrequented border- 
land between two worlds the feeling of a cheek 
against her breast alone could help muffle the 
deep disquiet in her, lost like a child in a wood. 
The cab slackened speed, the driver was light- 
ing his lamps; and his red face appeared at the 
window. 

'We'll 'ave to stop here, miss; I'm out of 
petrol. Will you get some dinner, or go through?' 

E Through," answered Barbara. 
While they were passing the little town, buying 
their petrol, asking the way, she felt less misera- 
ble, and even looked about her with a sort of 
eagerness. Then when they had started again, she 
thought: ' If I could get him to sleep the sea will 
comfort him ! ' But his eyes were staring, wide- 
open. She feigned sleep herself; letting her head 
slip a little to one side, causing small sounds of 
breathing to escape. The whirring of the wheels, 
the moaning of the cab joints, the dark trees slip- 
ping by, the scent of the wet fern drifting in, all 

436 



THE PATRICIAN 

these must surely help ! And presently she felt 
that he was indeed slipping into darkness and 
then she felt nothing. 

When she awoke from the sleep into which she 
had seen Miltoun fall, the cab was slowly mount- 
ing a steep hill, above which the moon had risen. 
The air smelted strong and sweet, as though it 
had passed over leagues of grass. 

'The Downs F she thought; 'I must have been 
asleep ! ' 

In sudden terror, she looked round for Miltoun. 
But he was still there, exactly as before, leaning 
back rigid in his corner of the cab, with staring 
eyes, and no other signs of life. And still only half 
awake, like a great warm sleepy child startled out 
of too deep slumber, she clutched, and clung to 
him. The thought that he had been sitting like 
that, with his spirit far away, all the time that 
she had been betraying her watch in sleep, was 
dreadful. But to her embrace there was no re- 
sponse, and awake indeed now, ashamed, sore, 
Barbara released him, and turned her face to the 
air. 

Out there, two thin, dense-black, long clouds, 
shaped like the wings of a hawk, had joined them- 
selves together, so that nothing of the moon 
showed but a living brightness imprisoned, like 
the eyes and life of a bird, between those swift 

437 



THE PATRICIAN 

sweeps of darkness. This great uncanny spirit, 
brooding malevolent over the high leagues of 
moon-wan grass, seemed waiting to swoop, and 
pluck up in its talons, and devour, all that in- 
truded on the wild loneness of these far-up plains 
of freedom. Barbara almost expected to hear 
coming from it the lost whistle of the buzzard 
hawks. And her dream came back to her. Where 
were her wings the wings which in sleep had 
borne her to the stars; the wings which would 
never lift her waking from the ground? Where 
too were Miltoun's wings? She crouched back 
into her corner; a tear stole up and trickled out 
between her closed lids another and another 
followed. Faster and faster they came. Then she 
felt Miltoun's arm round her, and heard him say: 
'Don't cry, Babs !" Instinct telling her what to 
do she laid her head against his chest, and 
sobbed bitterly. Struggling with those sobs, she 
grew less and less unhappy knowing that he 
could never again feel quite so desolate, as before 
he tried to give her comfort. It was all a bad 
dream, and they would soon wake from it ! And 
they would be happy; as happy as they had been 
before before these last months ! And she whis- 
pered : 

"Only a little while, Eusty!" 



438 




CHAPTER XXIX 

LD Lady Harbinger dying in the 
early February of the following 
year, the marriage of Barbara 
with her son was postponed till 
June. 

Much of the wild sweetness of spring still clung 
to the high moor borders of Monkland on the 
early morning of the wedding day. 

Barbara was already up and dressed for riding 
when her maid came to call her; and noting 
Stacey's astonished eyes fix themselves on her 
boots, she said: 
"Well, Stacey?" 
"It'll tire you." 

'Nonsense; I'm not going to be hung. 53 
Refusing the company of a groom, she made 
her way towards the stretch of high moor where 
she had ridden with Courtier a year ago. Here 
over the short, as yet unflowering, heather, there 
was a mile or more of level galloping ground. She 
mounted steadily, and her spirit rode, as it were, 
before her, longing to get up there among the 
peewits and curlew, to feel the crisp, peaty earth 
slip away under her, and the wind drive in her 

439 



THE PATRICIAN 

face, under that deep blue sky. Carried by this 
warm-blooded sweetheart of hers, ready to jump 
out of his smooth hide with pleasure, snuffling 
and sneezing in sheer joy, whose eye she could 
see straying round to catch a glimpse of her in- 
tentions, from whose lips she could hear issuing 
pleasant bitt-music, whose vagaries even seemed 
designed to startle from her a closer embracing 
she was filled with a sort of delicious impa- 
tience with everything that was not this perfect 
communing with vigour. 

Reaching the top, she put him into a gallop. 
With the wind furiously assailing her face and 
throat, every muscle crisped, and all her blood 
tingling this was a very ecstasy of motion ! 

She reined in at the cairn whence she and 
Courtier had looked down at the herds of ponies. 
It was the merest memory now, vague and a little 
sweet, like the remembrance of some exceptional 
spring day, when trees seem to flower before your 
eyes, and in sheer wantonness exhale a scent of 
lemons. The ponies were there still, and in dis- 
tance the shining sea. She sat thinking of nothing, 
but how good it was to be alive. The fullness and 
sweetness of it all, the freedom and strength ! 
Away to the West over a lonely farm she could 
see two buzzard hawks hunting in wide circles. 
She did not envy them so happy was she, as 

440 



THE PATRICIAN 

happy as the morning. And there came to her 
suddenly the true, the overmastering longing of 
mountain tops. 

'I must,' she thought; 'I simply must!' 

Slipping off her horse she lay down on her 
back, and at once everything was lost except the 
sky. Over her body, supported above solid earth 
by the warm, soft heather, the wind skimmed 
without sound or touch. Her spirit became one 
with that calm freedom. Transported beyond 
her own contentment, she no longer even knew 
whether she was joyful. 

The horse Hal, attempting to eat her sleeve, 
aroused her. She mounted him, and rode down. 
Near home she took a short cut across a meadow, 
through which flowed two thin bright streams, 
forming a delta full of lingering 'milkmaids," 
mauve marsh orchis, and yellow flags. From end 
to end of this long meadow, so varied, so pied 
with trees and stones, and flowers, and water, the 
last of the Spring was passing. 

Some ponies, shyly curious of Barbara and her 
horse, stole up, and stood at a safe distance, with 
their noses dubiously stretched out, swishing 
their lean tails. And suddenly, far up, following 
their own music, two cuckoos flew across, seeking 
the thorn-trees out on the moor. While she was 
watching the arrowy birds, she caught sight of 

441 



THE PATRICIAN 

someone coming towards her from a clump of 
beech-trees, and suddenly saw that it was Mrs. 
Noel! 

She rode forward flushing. What dared she 
say? Could she speak of her wedding, and betray 
Miltoun's presence? Could she open her mouth 
at all without rousing painful feeling of some 
sort? Then, impatient of indecision, she began: 

Tin so glad to see you again. I didn't know 
you were still down here.' 5 

c I only came back to England yesterday, and 
I'm just here to see to the packing of my things." 

"Oh !" murmured Barbara. "You know what's 
happening to me, I suppose?' 

Mrs. Noel smiled, looked up, and said: *I 
heard last night. All joy to you !' 

A lump rose in Barbara's throat. 

* I'm so glad to have seen you," she murmured 
once more; "I expect I ought to be getting on," 
and with the word ' Good-bye," gently echoed, 
she rode away. 

But her mood of delight was gone; even the 
horse Hal seemed to tread unevenly, for all that 
he was going back to that stable which ever ap- 
peared to him desirable ten minutes after he had 
left it. 

Except that her eyes seemed darker, Mrs. Noel 
had not changed. If she had shown the faintest 

442 



THE PATRICIAN 

sign of self-pity, the girl would never have felt, 
as she did now, so sorry and upset. 

Leaving the stables, she saw that the wind was 
driving up a huge, white, shining cloud. 'Isn't 
it going to be fine after all!' she thought. 

Re-entering the house by an old and so-called 
secret stairway that led straight to the library, 
she had to traverse that great dark room. There, 
buried in an armchair in front of the hearth she 
saw Miltoun with a book on his knee, not read- 
ing, but looking up at the picture of the old Car- 
dinal. She hurried on, tiptoeing over the soft 
carpet, holding her breath, fearful of disturbing 
the queer interview, feeling guilty, too, of her 
new knowledge, which she did not mean to im- 
part. She had burnt her fingers once at the flame 
between them; she would not do so a second 
time! 

Through the window at the far end she saw 
that the cloud had burst; it was raining furiously. 
She regained her bedroom unseen. In spite of her 
joy out there on the moors, this last adventure 
of her girlhood had not been all success; she had 
again the old sensations, the old doubts, the dis- 
satisfaction which she had thought dead. Those 
two ! To shut one's eyes, and be happy was it 
possible! A great rainbow, the nearest she had 
ever seen, had sprung up in the park, and was 

443 



THE PATRICIAN 

come to earth again in some fields close by. The 
sun was shining out already through the wind- 
driven bright rain. Jewels of blue had begun to 
star the black and white and golden clouds. A 
strange white light ghost of Spring passing in 
this last violent outburst painted the leaves of 
every tree; and a hundred savage hues had come 
down like a motley of bright birds on moor and 
fields. 

The moment of desperate beauty caught Bar- 
bara by the throat. Its spirit of galloping wild- 
ness flew straight into her heart. She clasped her 
hands across her breast to try and keep that mo- 
ment. Far out, a cuckoo hooted and the im- 
mortal call passed on the wind. In that call all 
the beauty, and colour, and rapture of life seemed 
to be flying by. If she could only seize and ever- 
more have it in her heart, as the buttercups out 
there imprisoned the sun, or the fallen raindrops 
on the sweetbriars round the windows enclosed 
all changing light ! If only there were no chains, 
no walls, and finality were dead ! 

Her clock struck ten. At this time to-morrow ! 
Her cheeks turned hot; in a mirror she could see 
them burning, her lips scornfully curved, her eyes 
strange. Standing there, she looked long at her- 
self, till, little by little, her face lost every vestige 
of that disturbance, became solid and resolute 

444 



THE PATRICIAN 

again. She ceased to have the galloping wild feel- 
ing in her heart, and instead felt cold. Detached 
from herself she watched, with contentment, her 
own calm and radiant beauty resume the armour 
it had for that moment put off. 

After dinner that night, when the men left the 
dining-hall, Miltoun slipped away to his den. Of 
all those present in the little church he had 
seemed most unemotional, and had been most 
moved. Though it had been so quiet and private 
a wedding, he had resented all cheap festivity ac- 
companying the passing of his young sister. He 
would have had that ceremony in the little dark 
disused chapel at the Court; those two, and the 
priest alone. Here, in this half-pagan little coun- 
try church smothered hastily in flowers, with the 
raw singing of the half-pagan choir, and all the 
village curiosity and homage everything had 
jarred, and the stale aftermath sickened him. 
Changing his swallow-tail to an old smoking 
jacket, he went out on to the lawn. In the wide 
darkness he could rid himself of his exasperation. 

Since the day of his election he had not once 
been at Monkland; since Mrs. Noel's flight he 
had never left London. In London and work he 
had buried himself; by London and work he had 
saved himself ! He had gone down into the battle. 

445 



THE PATRICIAN 

Dew had not yet fallen, and he took the path 
across the fields. There was no moon, no stars, no 
wind; the cattle were noiseless under the trees; 
there were no owls calling, no night-jars churring, 
the fly-by-night chafers were not abroad. The 
stream alone was alive in the quiet darkness. And 
as Miltoun followed the wispy line of grey path 
cleaving the dim glamour of daisies and butter- 
cups, there came to him the feeling that he was 
in the presence, not of sleep, but of eternal wait- 
ing. The sound of his footfalls seemed desecra- 
tion. So devotional was that hush, burning the 
spicy incense of millions of leaves and blades of 
grass. 

Crossing the last stile he came out, close to her 
deserted cottage, under her lime-tree, which on 
the night of Courtier's adventure had hung blue- 
black round the moon. On that side, only a rail, 
and a few shrubs confined her garden. 

The house was all dark, but the many tall 
white flowers, like a bright vapour rising from 
earth, clung to the air above the beds. Leaning 
against the tree Miltoun gave himself to memory. 

From the silent boughs which drooped round 
his dark figure, a little sleepy bird uttered a faint 
cheep; a hedge-hog, or some small beast of night, 
rustled away in the grass close by; a moth flew 
past, seeking its candle flame. And something in 

446 



THE PATRICIAN 

Miltoun's heart took wings after it, searching for 
the warmth and light of his blown candle of love. 
Then, in the hush he heard a sound as of a branch 
ceaselessly trailed through long grass, fainter and 
fainter, more and more distinct; again fainter; 
but nothing could he see that should make that 
homeless sound. And the sense of some near but 
unseen presence crept on him, till the hair moved 
on his scalp. If God would light the moon or 
stars, and let him see ! If God would end the ex- 
pectation of this night, let one wan glimmer down 
into her garden, and one wan glimmer into his 
breast! But it stayed dark, and the homeless 
noise never ceased. The weird thought came to 
Miltoun that it was made by his own heart, wan- 
dering out there, trying to feel warm again. He 
closed his eyes and at once knew that it was not 
his heart, but indeed some external presence, un- 
consoled. And stretching his hands out he moved 
forward to arrest that sound. As he reached the 
railing, it ceased. And he saw a flame leap up, 
a pale broad pathway of light blanching the 
grass. 

And, realising that she was there, within, he 
gasped. His finger-nails bent and broke against 
the iron railing without his knowing. It was not 
as on that night when the red flowers on her 
windowsill had wafted their scent to him ; it was 

447 



THE PATRICIAN 

no sheer overpowering rush of passion. Pro- 
founder, more terrible, was this rising up within 
him of yearning for love as if, now defeated, it 
would nevermore stir, but lie dead on that dark 
grass beneath those dark boughs. And if vic- 
torious what then? He stole back under the 
tree. 

He could see little white moths travelling down 
that path of lamplight; he could see the white 
flowers quite plainly now, a pale watch of blos- 
soms guarding the dark sleepy ones; and he 
stood, not reasoning, hardly any longer feeling; 
stunned, battered by struggle. His face and hands 
were sticky with the honey-dew, slowly, invisibly 
distilling from the lime-tree. He bent down and 
felt the grass. And suddenly there came over him 
the certainty of her presence. Yes, she was there 
out on the verandah ! He could see her white 
figure from head to foot; and, not realising that 
she could not see him, he expected her to utter 
some cry. But no sound came from her, no ges- 
ture; she turned back into the house. Miltoun 
ran forward to the railing. But there, once more, 
he stopped unable to think, unable to feel; as 
it were abandoned by himself. And he suddenly 
found his hand up at his mouth, as though there 
were blood there, to be staunched, escaped from 
his heart. 

448 



THE PATRICIAN 

Still holding that hand before his mouth, and 
smothering the sound of his feet in the long grass, 
he crept away. 



449 




CHAPTER XXX 

IN the great glass house at Ravens- 
ham, Lady Casterley stood close 
to some Japanese lilies, with a 
letter in her hand. Her face was 
very white, for it was the first day 
she had been allowed down after an attack of 
influenza; nor had the hand in which she held the 
letter its usual steadiness. She read: 

"MONKLAND COURT. 

'* Just a line, dear, before the post goes, to tell 
you that Babs has gone off happily. The child 
looked beautiful. She sent you her love, and some 
absurd message that you would be glad to hear 
she was perfectly safe, with both feet firmly on 
the ground." 

A grim little smile played on Lady Casterley's 
pale lips : Yes, indeed, and time too ! The child 
had been very near the edge of the cliffs ! Very 
near committing a piece of romantic folly ! That 
was well over ! And raising the letter again, she 
read on: 

' We were all down for it, of course, and come 
back to-morrow. Geoffrey is quite cut up. Things 
can't be what they were without our Babs. I've 

450 



THE PATRICIAN 

watched Eustace very carefully, and I really be- 
lieve he's safely over that affair at last. He is 
doing extraordinarily well in the House just now. 
Geoffrey says his speech on the Poor Law was 
head and shoulders the best made." 

Lady Casterley let fall the hand which held the 
letter: Safe? Yes, he was safe ! He had done the 
right the natural thing ! And in time he would 
be happy ! He would rise now to that pinnacle of 
desired authority which she had dreamed of for 
him, ever since he was a tiny thing, ever since his 
little thin brown hand had clasped hers in their 
wanderings amongst the flowers, and the furni- 
ture of tall rooms. But, as she stood crumpling 
the letter, grey-white as some small resolute 
ghost, among her tall lilies filling with their scent 
the great glass house shadows flitted across her 
face. Was it the fugitive noon sunshine? Or was 
it some glimmering perception of the old Greek 
saying "Character is Fate;" some sudden sense 
of the universal truth that all are in bond to their 
own natures, and what a man has most desired 
shall in the end enslave him? 

1909-10. 



45 



. . 3 7